A federal judge has turned down the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s request to expand the reach of poll watchers in the state.
A bill permitting poll watchers to enter any polling place in the state stalled in the legislature, so the state GOP went to court, arguing there just aren’t enough Republicans in Philadelphia County for the party to recruit the poll watchers needed to monitor voting in the city.
Any Pennsylvania voter who applies can be designated by a party or candidate as a poll watcher. Under current law they can enter any polling place in their home county, but can’t roam across the Commonwealth looking for voter fraud.
The party asked U.S. District Judge Gerald Pappert to order the state to permit poll-watching across county lines in this election.
Judge Pappert denied the request, noting that the GOP asked for extraordinary relief, and “waited until 18 days before the election to bring the case.”
So for this election, poll watches are tethered to their home counites.
Megan Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the state Republican committee said in a statement that “poll watchers have been an important part of the election process since the 1930’s and today’s decision was a blow to openness and transparency in our electoral system…We will continue to advocate for an open and fair electoral process and will review our legal options moving forward.”
Republican nominee Donald Trump has been telling voters to watch out for fraud in certain areas, including Philadelphia.