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These Rules Will Assure a Transparent and Fair Election on November 8, 2016

Pennsylvania’s elections are governed by the Pennsylvania Election Code (“Code”). That Code provides important rules to assure a free, fair, and transparent election. For instance:

1. There can be no campaign activity, or “electioneering”, in the polling place itself. (25 P.S. § 3060(c));

2. All persons — except designated election officers, clerks and watchers — must remain at least 10 feet from the polling place during voting hours. (25 P.S. § 3060(d));

3. If you are in line at the time the polls close (8:00 p.m.), you are entitled to vote. (25 P.S. § 3060(e));

4. Only one (1) watcher per candidate and one (1) watcher per organization is allowed inside the polling place at any time during General Election polling hours. (25 P. S. § 2687(b)). Further, watchers must be qualified registered electors of the county in which the precinct is located. (Id.);

5. Inside the polling place, a properly appointed watcher is entitled to observe the function of the polls and the actions of election officials;

6. Watchers should be aware of election laws and report any violations directly to the Judge of Elections;

7. If the Judge of Elections fails to act, the watcher should notify the County Board of Elections. The following are the numbers for the local County Election Bureaus:

Luzerne County – 570-825-1715
Lackawanna County – 570-963-6737
Wyoming County – 570-996-2226
Columbia County – 570-389-5640

8. The watchers may also observe the counting of the absentee ballots when opened and counted. (25 P.S. § 3146.8). Watchers may be required to produce certificate. (Id.);

9. The law permits a campaign watcher to maintain a list of voters. (25 P.S. § 2687(b));

10. After the polls close, all watcher are permitted inside the polling place to witness the opening of the machines and the preparation of the official returns for the precinct. (25 P.S. § 2687(b));
11. Voters whose credentials to vote are unclear are entitled to cast “provisional ballots”;

12. Voters whose credentials are challenged are further entitled to an emergency hearing before the Court of Common Pleas where county judges serve as “Duty Judges” for election purposes;

13. The election codes establishes strict procedure for punishing and deterring violators of election law. Attempting to interfere with the Right to Vote and Free Fair Elections is a very serious crime;

14. Conviction for the willful violation of the election code, could result in the deprevation of the right to vote up to four (4) years (25 P.S. § 3552), permanent exclusion from future candidacy for public office (25 P.S. § 3551), fines of up to $1,000 (25 P.S. § 3550, and imprisonment for up to one (1) year. (25 P.S. § 3550);

15. Finally, federal law makes it a crime to attempt to intimidate voters. 18 U.S.C. § 594.

Neil T. O'Donnell

Author: Neil T. O’Donnell

Attorney

267 Wyoming Avenue
Kingston, PA 18704

E-Mail: ntod@odonnell-law.com
Phone: (570) 821-5717
Facsimile: (570) 821-5799

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