An elections board in Bucks County, Pa., will hear accusations from the local Republican Party tomorrow that the local Dems broke election law by sending out official-looking mailers asking voters to apply for absentee ballots.
According to the Republicans, the mailers purported to come from the fictional “Pennsylvania Voter Assistance Office” and warned voters that they could lose voting privileges if they didn’t fill out the absentee ballot request forms. They came with an envelope addressed to a post office box associated with the Democratic Party. At the bottom, the letters note that they were paid for by the party.
More than 100 people called the elections board within two days, confused.“We had to point out that it was not from us,” the board director, Deena Dean, told the Philly Inquirer. “They wanted to know why their voter privileges were in jeopardy, and we reassured them that everything was fine by looking up their names in our registration records.”
The Buck County Democrats and Rep. Patrick Murphy’s campaign admit they sent the mailers.
Asked about it by The Morning Call last week, the Democratic party chairman, John Cordicso, said, “[Republicans] have manipulated the Board of Elections and that process for decades and now we are fighting back. So if they want to call that misleading and there is a better way to do it, then I won’t debate that. Let the people decide who to vote for. It will be processed and how those people vote is up to them.”
The Democrats have contended that the mailers were a perfectly legal attempt to get a list of absentee voters and to ensure that eligible voters could cast their ballot.
The elections board has received roughly the same number of absentee ballot requests as 2006, but have marked many more than usual as defective — 600 so far, according to Dean, a number that could rise by a couple hundred.
The Democrats have gone on the offensive, filing a counter-petition with the board of elections. They claim the Republican petition is an attempt to disenfranchise Democratic voters, and that 80 percent of the 600 defective requests are Democratic. According to their counter-petition, 24 Democratic voters have reported being rejected, despite being eligible to vote absentee.
The elections board, “under pressure from Republican operatives, is systematically denying Democratic voters the right to vote by absentee ballot,” their petition says.
The hearing will be held tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. ET. The board of elections is made up of two Republicans and one Democrat.
The TPM Polltracker Average shows Murphy trailing Republican challenger Mike Fitzpatrick, 40.6%-50.1%.