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Partisan Polling Places


A friend who recently moved to southeastern Pennsylvania offers this morning report aobut his voting experience:

Historically, I have voted in northern Virginia (where I lived for 10 years). I was always impressed by the fairness of the process, even when I knew most of the poll workers favored one party (the Democrats in Arlington and Falls Church, where I lived). Recently, I moved to eastern Pennsylvania and registered to vote. What I found at my polling place this morning stunned me. My area of Montgomery County, PA is heavily Democratic, and Norristown is a Democratic stronghold. So I expected to be a little out of place, but this was ridiculous.
My polling place was the Union Hall of Laborers Local 135 in Norristown, PA. Honestly, a union hall. All my voting life (the last 17 years) I have voted in public buildings: schools, community centers, fire halls. Never a place so partisan as a union hall.
There were no signs denoting the hall as a voting place (unless you count the 80 or so signs on and around the hall for Kerry-Edwards and sundry other Democrats). But, the building was adorned with a large (8′ x 8′ est.) “Laborers for Kerry” banner. It was bright red (of course). A similar sign was inside on a glass window facing voters while they waited to vote.
Councilman Darden (D-Montgomery County, not up for election) greeted voters at the door and introduced himself to just about everyone. He handed out helpful sample Democratic ballots to voters waiting in line. He wandered the halls of the building talking with voters and talking with campaign staff on his cell phone. Other Democratic campaigners handed out yellow sample ballots to voters waiting in line. Kerry-Edwards campaign signs flanked the doorway to the polling place.
I am not an election law attorney, so I have no idea if this is permissible under PA law. But, I worked the polls in VA once and almost all of this would have been illegal under VA law.
Frankly, I was ashamed at the nakedly partisan atmosphere at my polling place. Maybe this is how most people vote in this country?
I voted this morning at a church in the heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, but we voted in a church, and the boundaries for electioneering were clearly marked.


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