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Voter Challenge Brings Police to PAHS Polling Station

A challenge to an "inactive" voter incited an allegation of voter intimidation from an observer.

An allegation of voter intimidation brought police to Phoenixville Area High School on the morning of Election Day.

According to Judge of Elections Charlie Dewey, a man attempted to vote at the Phoenixville East 3 polling station who had an “inactive” voter registration status, meaning he hadn’t cast a ballot in over five years.

A Republican poll watcher challenged the man’s eligibility, at which point he went home to get ID, returned to the polling place, and cast a ballot. A fellow voter witnessed this exchange and cried foul, but by the time Phoenixville Police arrived to file a report, both the reporting party and the challenged voter were gone, according to Dewey.

Phoenixville borough councilman Michael Speck said it’s possible the voter may have had a disability.

Dewey characterized the challenge as standard practice, said the Republican poll watcher was just doing his job, and added that, had the man not been able to obtain his identification, he still would have been allowed to cast a ballot.

“There are two procedures we can go through [in cases like this],” he explained. “We can let him vote and have [the poll watcher] challenge it, or we can have them fill out a provisional ballot that goes in a separate envelope and is counted later at the county. If everything verifies with that, it goes through and is counted, but not in the initial returns.”

Dewey added that a separate voter, also inactive, was challenged, but she also provided identification and was allowed to vote.

Phoenixville Republican Party chairperson Brian Peppel, who arrived at the scene later in the morning, said that Chester County Republicans have a list of inactive voters and will be challenging as many of them as they come across, regardless of their party affiliation.

Peppel did admit that the county Republican’s poll watchers will be at strategic, and presumably Democrat-leaning, locations throughout the county, including in many Phoenixville polling places. He emphasized that this effort is unrelated to True the Vote.

djbemom November 06, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I see nothing wrong with the way this was handled. There were a couple of people filling out provisional ballots where I voted because they were not on the registration list. There were no challenges, no scenes and no reports filed and no police. Everyone was calm and rational. They did what they had to do and cast their votes. This is a big reason for unified ID throughout the country. If you had the ID there would be no questions, no provisional ballots and conceiveably you could vote anywhere. It seems to me this would franchise more voters than it would disenfranchise....just saying.....
Dr Caleb C. Nwosu November 06, 2012 at 06:04 PM
What or who is an inactive voter?.
Charlie Cheswick November 07, 2012 at 04:30 AM
An inactive voter hasn't voted in four years AND has ignored a mailing from the county.
Priscilla Savary November 07, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Why does someone HAVE to vote every time in order to retain their RIGHT to vote.
Ramona Moreland November 07, 2012 at 04:03 PM
This is a non-issue.
Chris November 07, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I would imagine it has to do with verification. Can't have people going away for 5 years and coming back and expecting the voter folks to keep your records all that time, verify things, etc. Seems reasonable to me. If it was 1-2 years I'd say that's unreasonable but if you're not voting at a minimum every 5 years I think it's fair to make someone re-register.
Fern Brodkin November 07, 2012 at 05:23 PM
A person does not have to vote every time to remain active.
Wendy Wassmer November 07, 2012 at 06:16 PM
A person should vote every year because all those Senators and Representatives that get voted in during those other elections are the people who vote in the Electoral College, if you don't know what that is, look it up on YouTube then come back and tell us why not voting every year is not needed. As far as the ID laws are concerned, in PA you can get a state issued photo ID for FREE. So there is no excuse to not get an ID in PA and use it to vote. As far as Voter ID laws are concerned, I don't care if they stay or go but everyone needs photo ID these days anyway. Also the more I read about what the Republicans were doing at the polls, all over the country yesterday, the more disgusted I am becoming with the Republican party in general. So the voter went home and came back with ID, so what!?! No need for things to get so heated that the cops had to show up. You have to be at least 18 to vote so everyone should act like Adults in these situations.
Paul G. Celentano November 07, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Ramona is correct. This is a non-issue as procedures are in place for challenging a voter and in fact hte form are readily provided to each precinct on Election Day. The polling officials apparently executed the procedure properly. As far as police response is concerned, it is generally the duty of the Judge of Elections to maintain order at the polling place by calling a constable who has been assigned to that polling place for that day. I'd have to look it up but I'm pretty sure police are not called in except under extreme circumstances. Either way, the act and procedure of challenging a voter is, albeit not common, pretty routine. The procedure is in place to maintain the integrity of the election process. Paul G. Celentano Judge of Elections Chester County 477
Andrea Lynch November 10, 2012 at 05:19 PM
That FREE Voter ID that you mention - is that the one that you get at a Drivers License Center? The same Drivers License Centers that have routinely failed to notify Voter Services when they have registered voters who get their license for the first time or renew their license? In Willistown we had 8+ voters who were not on the books, though they had registered while renewing their licenses at the Drivers License Center! I am a believer in a standard ID for all, as I was after 9/11 when this came up and was BURIED by those who were anti-Big Government. How times have changed!
PhilM November 10, 2012 at 07:42 PM
As if any of this makes a difference! Spend the ninety minutes to watch the HBO presentation "Hacking Democracy" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVTXbARGXso and then recall the commentary from Stalin: "You know, comrades," says Josef Stalin, "that I think in regard to this: I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how."

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