MontCo Republicans Cry Foul over Improperly Credentialed Obama Poll Watchers
Say 'illegal' effort took up party resources.
Montgomery County Republicans are unhappy with what they say was an "illegal effort" by Obama for America volunteers to act as poll watchers during Tuesday's elections.
According to John Keleman, executive director of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, the MCRC began receiving calls from its poll watchers Tuesday morning about individuals entering at least a dozen polling places in Lower Merion, Cheltenham, and Plymouth Township and identifying themselves as attorneys. These individuals produced letters from the state Democratic party that stated they were allowed to enter polling places to act as observers, Keleman said.
However, according to Keleman, only individuals with certificates issued by the Montgomery County Board of Elections may legally act as poll watchers.
"We told our volunteers to ask the judge of elections to ask the attorneys to produce watchers' certificates or leave the polls," said Keleman. "In some precincts, they were never admitted in the first place, or were asked to produce the certificate or leave, but there were some Democratic precincts that would [allow them to stay]."
Keleman said he then reported the incidents to the county Election Board. Assistant County Solicitor David Robinson confirmed to Patch that the Election Board was notified and took action, but did not believe that anything malicious had occurred.
"My understanding is that… there was a technical misunderstanding," Robinson said, adding that the rules for election observation in Montgomery County are slightly different than in the rest of the state. "There was a procedural issue they didn't catch."
Robinson said that under county law, only voters registered in Montgomery County may be issued poll watching certificates. After being notified of the incident, Robinson said the county brought the volunteers in question into county offices to check their registration, before issuing valid certificates and allowing them to return to the polls.
Still, Keleman believes the incidents impacted the Republican party's election day effort until the issue was sorted out at about 2 p.m.
"The sum total of this is that fighting this illegal effort obviously took up time of ours," Keleman said.
However, Marcel Groen, executive director of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee, told Patch there was no intended foul play, and said the issue was resolved by 10:30 a.m.
"I can't imagine why it would have taken up any legal resources or time on their party, since we were the ones that cleaned it up," said Groen.
At the county level, Robinson said it didn't appear that either side was attempting anything subversive.
"I don't suspect there was any foul play…both sides were very cooperative and we were glad to have it resolved," Robinson said.