Politics

Court Rejects Pennsylvania GOP's Bid For Poll Watchers

| by Nik Bonopartis

A federal judge has shot down a request by Pennsylvania Republicans to allow wandering monitors to watch the polls on Election Day.

Currently, state law stipulates that poll watchers in each county must be residents, which means monitors can only oversee polling locations in the counties where they're registered to vote.

Republicans challenged that rule, arguing that it's unconstitutional while responding to Republican candidate Donald Trump's assertions that the election could be "rigged" in favor of his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

But Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Gerald J. Pappert rebuked the state GOP, The Associated Press reported, saying Republicans challenged the law too late -- only 18 days before the election -- and were asking for a major change that could potentially disrupt operations on Nov. 8.

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Intervening so late in the process could cause "practical concerns including disruption, confusion or other unforeseen deleterious effects," the judge said.

"Allowing poll watchers to work in any county in the Commonwealth could result in certain counties being inundated with prospective poll watchers seeking credentials," Pappert wrote.

In busy counties and districts, that could increase the workload for poll workers "perhaps to the point of impossibility," Pappert wrote in his decision.

The state GOP is free to send more monitors to the polls, especially in cities like Philadelphia where it said it is concerned about fraud. But Pappert said any additional monitors have to follow the existing rules, and must be registered to vote in those counties where they plan to watch the polls.

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Rep. Bob Brady, a Democrat and chairman of Philadelphia's Democratic Party, praised Pappert's decision.

"We don't need out-of-county people," Brady said. "They're just trying to suppress the vote and cause confusion. It's totally ridiculous."

Sources: AP, CNN / Photo credit: RadioFan/Wikimedia Commons

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