Consumers Corner # 44


By Jim Murphy

Years ago, a teacher friend of mine got mad and wouldn’t vote anymore. Why? His political candidate didn’t win an election.

Bad idea. In the next election – which he sat out of – the new governor did exactly what he said he would do: cut funding for education.

That didn’t work out too well for the teacher … or his students. In voting, like the Pennsylvania Lottery, you have to play to win.

And if you don’t, you really have no reason to complain about our government or politics.

Americans are incredibly fortunate. Unlike many countries, we actually have the right to vote for people we want to represent us.
Our leaders aren’t dictators. Voting is a privilege people around the world fight to try to get.

Yet our voting participation is appalling

In the 2018 primary, says Al Dia, only 16.74 percent of eligible Philadelphia voters showed up at the polls. In some wards, the percentages were under 5 percent and in others, closer to 1 percent.

And this was in an election that pushed controversial District Attorney candidate Larry Krasner into a perfect position to win last November, which he did. Yet the primary turnout by Democrats was only about 18%.

So less than one-fifth of the population chose our city’s District Attorney 

Statewide, even in the critical Presidential election of 2016, Hilary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, just 70.11 percent of registered voters voted. And in what is termed the Voting Age Population, the number was just 61.04 percent.  That’s because only about 87 percent of the Voting Age Population are actually registered to vote.

So if you don’t register, you allow someone else to make your choices for you.

And if you are registered, but don’t vote, you are doing the same thing.

Wake up, Philadelphia. You have a right to vote. Use it.

Key Voting Dates to Remember

Sept. 17 – First day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot

Oct. 9 – Last day to register to vote in Nov. election

Nov. 2 – Last day for County Boards of Elections to receive voted civilian absentee ballots

Nov. 6 – General Election

Sources: Al Dia and Pennsylvania Department of State Voting & Election Statistics

Our Ballot Box Security
May Not Be All That Tight

How long does it take an 11-year old boy to hack into a replica of Florida’s election website?

Last month, it  took Emmett Brewer under ten minutes at DEFCON 26, reportedly the world’s largest hacking convention,

An 11-year-old girl took a whole 15 minutes to make changes to the same website, tripling the number of votes found there.

So how secure and accurate are our voting results? These stories make you wonder. A lot.

Source: NPR

Photo Credit:

“Vote — Nov 4, 2008” flickr photo by Atomische * Tom Giebel shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license



That’s what a Texas hospital charged teacher Drew Calver for care after he suffered a heart attack and a neighbor rushed him to the nearest emergency room. Turns out it was out-of-network under Drew’s school district health plan. Bad for Drew.


This is what the hospital cut the charge to … after national publicity about the cost surfaced. Good for Drew.


 And this is what his insurance company paid the hospital. This story makes the whole hospital and medical cost picture in the U.S. look a bit absurd, doesn’t it? Too bad for all of us.

 Sources: and Kaiser Health News



Elfreth’s Alley, said to be the oldest residential street in British North America, was originally named Gilbert’s Alley. The 16-foot-wide “cart way” between Front and 2nd Street, created in the early 1700s, was named for John Gilbert, who owned a property there.

Later it was renamed Elfreth’s Alley for Jeremiah Elfreth, a silversmith who owned much of the property on the alley, but who never lived there.

Sources: The Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides Handbook and the Elfreth’s Alley Association.

Photo Credits:

“Vote — Nov 4, 2008” flickr photo by Atomische * Tom Giebel shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Jim Murphy
 is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. Now a certified member and vice president of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides, Jim gives tours and has written more than 50 historical articles for both the Queen Village Neighbors Association magazine and the Society Hill Reporter.

Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.




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