There is no ‘poll watcher’ scandal

THERE IS NO ‘POLL WATCHER’ SCANDAL…. Apparently, according to several far-right blogs, the scandal of the day is a decision in Pennsylvania to prevent poll watchers from hanging out in Philadelphia precincts and watching people vote.

Apparently, the parties sent these watchers to “monitor” various precincts, on the lookout for some kind of nefarious conduct. When the watchers were asked to leave, this was proof, the far-right blogs said, of a deliberate scheme to conduct fraud in secret, free of poll watchers’ careful scrutiny. What about accountability? And the integrity of the voting process?

As far as I can tell, all of this is total nonsense.

Fox News’ Rick Leventhal went to one of the sites where poll watchers were asked to leave, and couldn’t find anything wrong.

“Well they’re saying that some Republican poll watchers were asked to leave this polling place because the Judge of Elections said that the Democrats are the party of power here, that the Republicans were in the minority and would have to leave. This is what the Republican poll watchers said when they showed up here. Democratic poll watchers said that’s not the case, that she was also asked to leave and that they would all be allowed in intermittently.

“When I went inside I spoke with one of the people running this polling place, she said, ‘Listen, it’s really crowded in here, were trying to make room for the people who are actually doing the voting, were just trying to keep things orderly.’ And in fact, we can show you can see the back door here, you can see the back of some of the voting machines. It is crowded in there, I walked inside, took a look. There are some long lines here. There are actually three precincts voting in this location. And apparently, this is certainly some sort of an argument going on here between Republicans and Democrats, but according to the Committee of 70, which is an independent election watchdog group, they say there’s no problem here.”

Leventhal spoke to a Republican poll watcher who said he’d only be allowed “intermittent” access to watching people vote; a Democratic poll watcher said the same thing. That’s because it’s the law — observers can check in and make sure everything’s running as it should, but watchers can’t just take up space in a crowded precinct and watch every voter pick up a ballot.

Nothing to see here; move along.