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Election Notes  (PA)

The Times Leader    23 April 2008

WILKES-BARRE – A woman wanting to vote was turned away after no proof of her registration could be found. The judge of elections at Ward 16 on Hanover Street, Walter Griffith, said Annmarie Lee, of Wilkes-Barre, told Griffith she registered to vote, but did not specify where she had registered. Griffith said he called a county elections inspector who told him there was no evidence of her registration and not to give her a provisional ballot to fill out.

Griffith said that is a violation of the law.

“The provisional ballot does not make them policeman to give people the right not to vote,” he said.

He said he also called county solicitor Jim Blaum who told him that his interpretation of the law was not to give the ballot out.

Blaum said he never told Griffith not to give Lee a provisional ballot, but said he recommended not to since Griffith did not have specific information about where she registered.

Luzerne County Director of Elections Leonard Piazza said the bottom line is that the judge of elections at the precinct has the authority to issue provisional ballots after consulting with Voter Services, but Griffith said that was not made clear to him.

Piazza said the job of employees from Voter Services is to help the judge of elections through the process and let them make the final decision. To give a provisional ballot, Voter Services checks to see if there is registration evidence on hand in order to recommend whether or not they should fill one out.

WYOMING – A judge of elections in the borough reportedly told a voter, “Remember, it’s a White House, not a Black House.”

Luzerne County Director of Elections Leonard Piazza could not confirm the statement, but said he had heard that it may have been made.

“If somebody blurts out something with a racial tone, I find that highly inappropriate at the polling place.”

The name of the judge of elections was not available Tuesday afternoon and it could not be determined whether disciplinary action would be taken.

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