Philly D.A.: No “Founded” Complaints About Voter Fraud or Intimidation

Seth Williams is urging voters to call 215-686-9641 if they see anything funny at the polls.

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, Democrats worried that voters could face intimidation at the polls in Philadelphia. Republicans warned of potential voter fraud.

But so far, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says, there have been no “founded” complaints about either problem in the city. 

At a 2:30 p.m. press conference, Williams said the city’s Election Fraud Task Force had received 68 calls about other issues, including 15 complaints about voter assistance, 13 about electioneering, 10 about machine problems, and five about illegal assistance. Officials said they sent 34 teams to investigate those claims, and would not comment any further on the open investigations.

Williams said the number of calls his office has received so far is roughly the same it gets every presidential election by this time in the day.

Joe DeFelice, executive director of the Philadelphia Republican Party, had a different perspective. He alleged that “about 40” minority-party inspectors were tossed out of polling places on Tuesday. “Now they’re scared of going back and voting,” he claimed.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wellbrock said it is “typical” to get a few complaints every election about the failure to sit minority inspectors appropriately. He said his task force had not gotten any calls about that issue since 8 a.m., however.

Though he did not refer to him by name, Williams also spoke about James O’Keefe, a controversial conservative activist who said on Twitter that he was in Philadelphia “tailing a pastor’s bus that’s bussing people to the polls.” (It was actually a van, not a bus, per his video.) Williams pointed out that “there is nothing illegal about taking people to vote.”

Some on social media questioned if O’Keefe was intimidating the voters by allegedly following them. Williams said he had received no complaints from either O’Keefe or the people in the van. “There is no expectation of privacy when you are in public,” he added. “If, in fact, you are attempting to vote and you feel as though people are following you or saying things in some way that you feel in intimidated by them, we want people to call us.”

Kevin Harden is the president of the Barristers Association of Philadelphia, which is providing legal support to the Octavius V. Catto initiative aimed at “protecting the right to vote” in the city and surrounding suburbs. He said he contacted the leader of the Philadelphia Black Clergy about O’Keefe’s video, who in turn alerted his contacts in the faith community. “We can’t say it was voter intimidation without a complainant to say what happened.”

Harden said his group had also received complaints from some students at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, who said their names were not in the voter books at their polling station. Other first-time voters there said they had no problems, though, he said.

There are about three hours left till the polls close in Pennsylvania. If you witness voter intimidation, fraud or any other shenanigans, you can call the Election Fraud Task Force’s hotline at 215-686-9641.

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