Watchdog: ‘Beginning to look like a messy election’

Posted: November 06, 2012

Some people were told - wrongly - that if they voted a straight party ticket on Tuesday their vote for president would not register.

Others were told - wrongly, again - that their polling place had been moved.

And then there is the continuing confusion over Pennsylvania's new voter photo ID law: it's not in effect for this election, poll workers can still ask you for identification but you can still vote without a photo ID.

That's why Zack Stalberg, president of the election watchdog group Committee of Seventy, said "this is beginning to look like a messy election."

"I hope it's clean and hope it's resolved tomorrow night but it may not," Stalberg warned.

Stalberg, with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and all three Philadelphia City Commissioners met with reporters today to make a final effort to tamp down potential electoral bushfires and to get out phone numbers voters should call if they encounter problems at the polls.

"We want a safe, orderly election," said Williams, adding that his office would have 20 assistant district attorneys and county detectives on call throughout the day to investigate complaints of voter intimidation or other allegations of impropriety.

Stalberg said the Committee of Seventy - traditionally a city-focused organization - is this year expanding its election help to all five counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Stalberg said the group will have 100 trained volunteers staffing phones in its Center City office and another 700 volunteers deployed throughout the region.

"I do not want to overstate things but we're talking about a race that's neck-and-neck nationally and we're in a state that seems to have moved back into a swing-state category," Stalberg said.

"The margin in this region determines, probably, the outcome for the state. So funny things will happen probably," Stalberg added.

Stalberg said the Committee of Seventy will have a toll-free election hotline - 1-866-OUR-VOTE - on Tuesday and will refer problems to law enforcement officials if needed.

Williams said the District Attorney's office will have two phone numbers available for voters to report allegations of intimidation: 215-686-9641 and 215-686-9643.

Stephanie Singer, chair of the City Commissioners, which runs elections in Philadelphia, said voters should call 215-686-1590 to report malfunctioning voting machines.

Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985,, or @joeslobo on Twitter.

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