A Philadelphia poll watcher for President Donald Trump was mistakenly turned away when he presented a valid certificate on Tuesday morning. After the video of his being turned away went viral, the Philadelphia City Commissioners said they would look into the matter, and he was later allowed inside the polling location. Read on to watch a video of what happened and learn more.
The Poll Watcher Was Told He Was at the Wrong Location
In the video below, you can see the poll watcher trying to enter a polling location in Philadelphia and being told that he was not at the right location. This video was first shared by Will Chamberlain of Human Events on Twitter, who told ProPublica that the incident happened in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood.
The poll watcher explained that he had the correct credentials, but he was continually told that he was at the wrong location. You can see a screenshot of his credential in the tweet below.
The Watcher’s Certificate notes that it is valid for the Philadelphia County Board of Elections and authorizes the individual to watch in any ward or division in Philadelphia. The small print at the bottom stipulates that each candidate can have two watchers per division in their district, but no candidate can have more than one watcher in the same voting room at any time. The certificate notes that he is representing President Donald Trump.
Officials Said That He Was Authorized to Be There & He Was Later Allowed Inside
As the video was going viral, the Philadelphia City Commissioners Twitter account took notice. They asked for the location, ward and division to be messaged to them so they could investigate.
The City Commissioners’ Twitter account has been responding to inquiries and concerns all morning.
Kevin Feeley, spokesperson for the Philadelphia City Commissioners office, later told Buzzfeed News that the poll watcher was turned away by mistake and allowed inside the polling location later. He said that the worker at the location was following an older law that watchers had to be assigned to specific wards, and the watcher had a different ward listed on his certificate. But that law is no longer valid.
Feeley said: “It was an honest mistake. … This person was allowed to enter and is there now.”
Feeley also confirmed with ProPublica that it was just a misinterpretation of rules about poll watcher locations and an isolated incident. He said that the allegation that Democratic officials were banning Trump poll watchers was not true.
“The mistake was corrected, and the guy was admitted,” he told ProPublica. “We remain confident that the election will be open, honest and produce accurate results.”
A District Attorney’s office spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that they had not received any complaints about that particular situation.
Pennsylvania poll watcher law, updated October 28, 2020, notes that poll watchers must be registered electors in their county and must receive official credentials and be assigned to specific precincts. But, the rules note: “When a poll watcher is not serving in the election district for which the poll watcher was appointed, he or she may serve in any other election district in the same county in which the poll watcher is a qualified registered elector.”
The rules also note:
Each candidate may appoint two poll watchers for each election district in which he or she appears on the ballot. Each political party and political body which has nominated candidates on the ballot may appoint three poll watchers for each election district at any general, municipal or special election in which the candidates of such party or body are on the ballot. However, only one poll watcher may be present in the polling place at one time for each candidate at primaries or for each candidate, party, or political body during general, municipal or special elections, from the time election officers meet prior to the opening of the polls until the time that the counting of votes is complete. It is also important to note that all poll watchers must remain outside the enclosed space.
Poll watchers must have official certificates from the County Board of Elections with their name, candidate or political body they represent, and they must show the certificate when asked.
The poll watcher in the video was not violating any rules, according to officials.
If you have any election complaints in Pennsylvania, you can report them on this website.