PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — President Donald Trump’s campaign wants poll watchers to be allowed where Philadelphia residents are voting, but city officials say the satellite election offices are not polling places. The Trump campaign has acted on its earlier threat of legal action this week and filed a complaint with the Court of Common Pleas on Thursday night.
The Trump campaign alleges that campaign poll watchers are being denied access to newly opened satellite election offices in Philadelphia.
Video posted earlier this week on social media by a Trump campaign official shows someone from the campaign not being given access inside a City Hall election center.
The complaint alleges that these are public spaces where voting action is taking place and they should legally be allowed to access election activity.
State officials say these are not polling places and they do not have a right to be present.
“They don’t have any right to be present in county election offices,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. “Once appointed poll watchers and party representatives have certain specified rights in the polling places on Election Day as well as certain rights around the count.”
The secretary of state doubled down on her message by quoting a city commissioner.
“Poll watchers have no right to come into our house and sit with us at our kitchen table when we vote,” Boockvar said, “nor do they have the ability to go into the county election offices to watch people vote.”
The legal battle will go before a judge now to decide who has the right to enter these temporary election offices. Seven have opened around Philadelphia so far. A total of 17 will be established in the next couple of weeks ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
An attorney for the city commissioners responded with a statement reading, in part, “The claims of this lawsuit are baseless and the city will defend against this and any other such efforts to tie the election up in the courts. To be clear: The satellite offices are not polling places and the Pennsylvania Election Code does not create a right for campaign representatives to ‘watch’ at these locations.”
A hearing on the matter is expected next week.