Candidate Philip Garcia wins Pennsylvania election with a single vote for themselves

'I've written my name in a few times during elections when no one else is listed for a position. It's just been a thing I do, with no expectation of, like, actually making an impact on the vote'

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 03 December 2017 19:01
Comments
Philip Garcia says their victory shows that one vote can make a difference
Philip Garcia says their victory shows that one vote can make a difference

A student will serve as Judge of Elections for their Pennsylvania ward after their own single vote won the ballot.

After no one else bothered to vote, Philip Garcia will now serve as an impartial observer during elections in his local ward for the next four years.

The journalist and PhD student, who identifies as gender non-binary, said they were shocked when they opened the letter saying he had been elected to help oversee elections for Ward 21, Division 10 of Philadelphia.

A Judge of Elections is similar to the independent observers found in polling stations on election day in the UK.

“I literally yelled 'what the hell' when I opened the letter," Garcia told The Hill website. “I've written my name in a few times during elections when no one else is listed for a position. It's just been a thing I do, with no expectation of, like, actually making an impact on the vote.”

Although it varies between state, the US political system directly elects far more of its legislative and local authorities than the UK. Public figures who face reelection include local police chiefs, some judges and often a county or state’s chief prosecutor.

In the UK observers can simply apply to be accredited by the Electoral Commission but in some US states, such as Pennsylvania, they are democratically elected.

In the US people can also write the name of the person they want to be elected on the ballot paper rather than going through the formal nomination process.

This is illegal in the UK as making any mark on the paper except a cross in a single box is considered a spoilt ballot.

Tweeting about their surprise victory, Garcia said: “They say that one vote doesn't matter, but I literally wrote in my own name and won an election because I guess no-one else ran/voted for this position.”

They will take up the position in January.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt confirmed Garcia’s victory and said it was not unusual for these sorts of positions to be filled this way.

He said: "Frequently, candidates do not file petitions to have their names appear on the ballot, so that's when we see write-in votes being decisive. A winner is the candidate who received the most write-in votes."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in