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Voters Put Off by Questions at Gracedale Poll

Three people who voted at the Gracedale polling place found it odd that a woman inside the building asked about their party affiliation.

Check out our Patch's Live Lehigh Valley Election Blog

6:15 p.m. update:

Northampton County Registrar Dee Rumsey tells Patch nobody should be asking voters about their party affiliation at polls.

Original Report:

NAZARETH - Three voters say a woman -- possibly a Republican poll watcher -- made them feel uncomfortable at the Joseph Thoder Building at Gracedale, Northampton County’s nursing home.

Voter Mark Cloeren posted on Nazareth Patch's Facebook page:

"Upper Nazareth (Gracedale) location was pretty low key early. No ID requests, although there was an RNC rep in the voting room asking each voter "Republican or Democrat?" After a bit of a discussion she said she was asking whether you were registered one way or the other. But it came across more like she wanted to know how you were voting. She didn't clarify her question after that, and it seemed to put some people off a bit."

Another resident said the woman continued to talk with voters if they told her they were Republican.

The woman was not at the polls when Nazareth Patch went there. Patch has been unable to reach Northampton County election officials as of 5 p.m. to ask about the situation.

Linda Post, the judge of elections at the Gracedale polling location, was visibly startled when Patch detailed readers’ concerns. Post said she personally did not hear any politicking, but was curious to know what the poll watcher was saying to certain voters.

Any party or political organization is entitled to have watchers at any primary or election.

Post said she didn’t know who appointed the poll watcher at Gracedale.

Marci Levine Morefield, posting on Nazareth Patch's Facebook page, said the poll watcher did not identify herself before asking her question, and “it was very off-putting to be asked my affiliation inside the polling place.”

Another voter called the situation “very odd” and told Patch that he “was not comfortable with it.”

According to www.portal.state.pa.us, the rights of poll watchers are:

  • Watchers allowed in the polling place are permitted to keep a list of voters. Section 417(b)
  • Watchers allowed in the polling place are entitled to challenge the qualifications of voters in accordance with the provisions of section 1210(d) of the Code (25 P.S. § 3050(d)). Section 417(b)
  • Watchers allowed in the polling place are entitled to inspect the voting check list and either of the two numbered lists of voters during those intervals when voters are not present in the polling place, provided that the watcher does not mark upon or alter any of these official records. (The judge of election must either personally supervise or delegate supervision of such inspection of the list or lists.) Section 417(b) 
Ben Miller November 07, 2012 at 06:57 PM
That's the policy, Eric. If someone else failed to follow the policy, then that's on them. I agree about the signatures, however.
Eric Harding November 07, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I have NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER been asked my party affiliation. EVER. I have been voting for 16 years. For the past elections that I have voted in and that I can remember they have always put my party affiliation on that form. Always with a one letter designation. I have now voted in: Bushkill Township, Nazareth Boro and Plainfield Township. My experience has been true at all of them. If ever asked I WILL reply: "That is none of your damn business." You are correct about the form in question.
Linda H November 09, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Just as an FYI. The polling place at Gracedale ran out of the polling forms. When my husband went to vote around 4:30 the gentleman asked him to write his first and last name along with party affiliation. When I went to vote at 6:30. The lady at the table didn't ask us to write our party affiliation. It's appears there is inconsistency and the elections office should address this is some type of training
Ben Miller November 09, 2012 at 02:34 AM
EXACTLY! There is tremendous inconsistencies and I believe that is because most people elected, never actually go to the training meeting. It's held each year in the courthouse and last time I was there, the courtroom was half full. There was maybe a quarter of the people who were supposed to be there.
Ben Miller November 09, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Ugh. There ARE, not "there is" Sorry....

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