Philadelphia Man’s Surprise Election Victory Is A Testament To Why Your Vote Matters

Even if it’s just one.

Proving what high school civics teachers teach their students every year, a Philadelphia man was informed he won a local election this week after writing in his name on the ballot last November. Phillip Garcia learned that he will be the next election judge for Ward 21, Division 10 in Philadelphia via a certificate he received in the mail earlier this week. A total of three votes were cast in this particular election, each for a write-in candidate, and the sole vote cast for Garcia was his own. 


Garcia, editor-at-large of The Rumpus and a Temple University Ph.D. candidate, posted a photo to Twitter Friday of the notification he received from the City and County of Philadelphia informing him of his win, along with the caption, "They say 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."

Per The Hill, Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt confirmed the vote tally (1) and Garcia's win Saturday, and added that write-in candidates are how most election judge positions are filled. In the past election, 192 election judge positions were filled via write-in candidates. 

Garcia told A Plus via email that he would consider himself fairly politically engaged, but, having moved to Philadelphia three years ago, still hasn't really gotten involved with local politics. As an election judge, Garcia will be responsible for running his local polling place on election day, a position that requires only that individuals be a U.S. citizen, over the age of 18 and a resident of the district in which he or she presides and beyond the $100 Garcia will receive for election day, doesn't come with many perks. 

"I honestly think I'm a bit more surprised by the response to my election than I am by the election itself," Garcia said. "The position isn't one of massive power (though I do think it's important), but suddenly, some people seem to have very strong feelings about it."

This isn't the first time Garcia has written himself in as a candidate, but he never thought that he would actually be elected to a position. Only in his first couple days as an elected official, Garcia still isn't quite sure how he feels about his new position.  

"I would say overall that most folks have been kind and funny about it," he said. "I think that particularly for Latinx and queer folks, it means a lot to them to see one of their own in ANY kind of position of power, so I'm happy about that."

Garcia's initial post quickly went viral on Twitter. That someone could actually be elected to a political office, even if it's a small one, with one vote caught many people by surprise.

Garcia's term as election judge will begin in 2018, with his first election in May. He said he isn't sure if he'll serve the complete four-year term, but for now is willing to give it his best shot.

"I'm still trying to figure out what the lesson of all of this is," Garcia said. "I think whether or not people agree with my politics or personality, it does make the case that you should get out and vote. If you actually make the effort, who knows?"


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.