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City officials hear testimony of alleged election fraud

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

There’s still no certified winner in a disputed legislative race in North Philadelphia. City election officials held a hearing yesterday on charges of Election Day bullying and vote fraud in the May 18 Democratic primary.

Election judge Maximina Martinez said voting in her polling place was disrupted when supporters of State Representative Angel Cruz physically barred his opponent from the polling place.

“Now these people are going at it at the doorway,” recalled Martinez. “The security from the school had to come out, you know, and at the end they had to…they called us – the judges – outside.”

Election officials say they hope to make future elections more orderly.

But Cruz says the hearings are political witch-hunt.

Commission chair Marge Tartaglione, he notes, is a Democratic ward leader. Her daughter is a state senator and her son-in-law is a ward leader, both of whom opposed Cruz in the election.

Tartaglione says she has a duty to investigate election complaints.

“Now, being in politics for 50-something years, I know almost all the ward leaders,” says Tartaglione. “I know a lot of committee people. So when something comes up, should I recuse myself?”

The state attorney general’s office is investigating.

Unofficial returns give Cruz a narrow win in the primary, but the courts will ultimately decide who prevails.

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