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Pennsylvania Urged To Follow Voting Laws

The Advancement Project

Pennsylvania Urged to Follow Voting Laws

Pennsylvania, United States -- Advancement Project is urging Pennsylvania's Secretary of State Pedro Cortés to adopt a specific set of recommendations to make certain that all state election officials comply with federal voting laws that mandate sufficient training to ensure fair elections.

In a letter to Secretary Cortés earlier this month, Advancement Project proposed several specific steps election officials must take—following a directive from Cortés --to comply with the law. Advancement Project found that Pennsylvania’s training of poll workers has been woefully inadequate, and, as a result, thousands of voters who were eligible to vote and tried to vote were disenfranchised. A 2006 training session that Advancement Project attended, which lasted 17 minutes, provided evidence of the inadequate training.

Advancement Project determined that poll-worker training is essentially considered optional in Pennsylvania because local election officials have decided they cannot require poll workers to attend training sessions

Furthermore, Pennsylvania’s training manuals are difficult to navigate and offer incomplete and inadequate explanations of Pennsylvania’s election law.

In this year’s primary, 27 percent of voters who cast provisional ballots in Allegheny County did not have their ballots counted because their provisional ballot envelopes were incomplete. If poll workers were trained to ensure that provisional ballot envelopes were complete before the ballot is received, these ballots could be counted and this form of disenfranchisement would not have occurred.

Furthermore, Advancement Project learned that poll workers: failed to open polling places on time; failed to respond, effectively, to voting equipment malfunction; improperly administered or refused to offer provisional ballots to voters; incorrectly demanded identification; allowed electioneering inside polling places; followed voters into the voting booth; publicly berated a voter’s preferred candidate; and prohibited voters wearing partisan buttons and clothing from entering the polls.

Advancement Project has urged the secretary of state to issue a directive that makes training mandatory for all poll workers who will work the polls on Nov. 4.

Advancement Project has also asked Cortés to: identify essential areas of election administration that must be covered by trainings; provide manuals that must be distributed to poll workers; establish clear, uniform qualifications and assessment of every poll worker, without which the poll worker cannot work on Election Day; distribute Advancement Project’s poll worker palm card or a comparable tool developed by the state that aids poll workers to handle problems that are likely to occur.


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