The Luzerne County Election Board has determined county Councilwoman Elaine Maddon Curry apparently violated two election regulations on Nov. 6 for entering the Hazleton Ward 1 polling place.
The board decision was in response to a complaint from Hazleton resident Kathy Dobash, who worked as minority inspector in Ward 1.
The board also criticized Dobash, saying she erred in not immediately bringing Ms. Curry's unauthorized presence and actions to the attention of the judge of elections.
Dobash and Maddon Curry both disagreed with the accuracy of details in the report and criticized the decision.
The board has no authority to issue sanctions, said board Chairman H. Jeremy Packard. Instead, the board recommended additional poll worker training and advised both women to avoid such actions in future elections.
The regulations cited in the document specify which individuals are allowed inside and within 10 feet of polling places, including poll watchers, peace and police officers, waiting voters and people lawfully providing assistance to voters.
While Ms. Curry contends that she was rendering necessary assistance to a voter, she was not party to the official regulations for assisting a voter, the document says.
The judge of elections did not know Maddon Curry and presumed she was from the election bureau or board when he saw her sitting in the restricted area, the document said.
Maddon Curry said she personally assisted four of about 20 Hazleton-area Latino voters who came to the Obama campaign's Hazleton headquarters, where she was a volunteer, to report their names were not located in voter registration records at their polling places.
She contacted the county election bureau, which said three of the four were listed in registration records.
Only two of the four had been offered the opportunity to vote on provisional ballots, and those two wanted to return to vote on a machine once their paper ballots were torn up, because they had valid registrations and feared their provisional votes would not be counted, she said.
The voter not listed in registration records also wanted to vote on a provisional ballot.
All four voters asked her to accompany them on their return to polling places, she said.
Without identifying herself as a councilwoman, she explained the situation to the judges of election and retreated when the citizens voted, she said.
Maddon Curry said she did not assist anyone with voting and had no idea she wasn't permitted to sit in an unoccupied chair in the polling place.
Once again I would like to say all my actions that day went to ensure rightful registered American citizens who had been inappropriately turned away at the polls had the opportunity to vote, she said. I remain proud of my actions.
Dobash said the facts are incorrect because she questioned the judge of elections while Maddon Curry was in the polling place without a watcher's certificate and said the judge told her Maddon Curry would be leaving soon. Dobash said she continued assisting voters Nov. 6 and decided she would file formal complaints the next day.
Your response is insulting and sends a clear message to everyone working at the polls on Election Day to not report when PA election laws are violated, Dobash wrote in reply to the board.
Dobash said she also filed a complaint about Maddon Curry with the county Ethics Commission and district attorney.