PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A judge heard arguments Tuesday over the lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign against the City of Philadelphia. The campaign says poll watchers have been denied access to the satellite election offices.
The hearing was supposed to be over if poll watchers should be allowed inside satellite election centers, like the one at City Hall. A poll worker’s job is to make sure nothing improper happens at a polling place.
And probably because of that, the big question debated today was, are Philly’s satellite election centers actually polling places?
In a virtual hearing where recording was barred, the Trump campaign argued turning in ballots at a public place, like City Hall, is the definition of a polling place and therefore poll watchers should have the right to be there.
Linda Kerns, who represents the Trump campaign argued to the judge, “We want to be there and shine a light on the process… Problems happen in Philadelphia, judge.”
The comment may remind people of what President Donald Trump said about the City of Brotherly Love in last week’s debate.
“Bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things,” the president said.
Trump incorrectly asserted during the debate poll watchers were thrown out of Philly’s satellite election offices.
But the city has had previous elections issues. Back in May, former City Elections Judge Domenick Demuro admitted to illegally stuffing ballots for Democratic candidates.
Still, at Tuesday’s hearing, the Trump campaign did not point to any problems happening in the city’s satellite election centers.
“They do more than a normal polling place would do,” Marni Jo Snyder said.
Snyder practices election law in Philadelphia and is not affiliated with the Trump campaign or city government.
“When they say satellite, they mean satellite office of the commissioner’s office. So, they’re doing similar but somewhat limited operations just like they would at the commissioner’s office where everything is happening,” Snyder said.
Attorney Ben Field, who is arguing for the city, agrees. He also pointed out at today’s hearing the state elections code specifically defines a polling place as a place to vote only on Election Day and not the days leading up to the election.
The Committee of Seventy is a Philadelphia-based elections integrity group and says that the statute is clear.
The satellite election offices are not polling places. Polling places are open on Election Day … open Nov. 3,” said Pat Christmas.
A judge is now expected to rule over if poll watchers should be allowed inside Philly’s satellite election centers. But his questions during the hearing make it appear he’s leaning in favor of the city.
At one point, the judge stated today: “If poll watchers were required, they would be in the elections statute.”