Meadville Tribune

Local News

November 6, 2012

County's Voter Services director takes responsibility for incorrect voter identification signs

MEADVILLE — The director of the Crawford County Office of Voter Services is taking responsibility for what she describes as an oversight that may have led to some voters turning away from the polls today.

A sign that read “Photo ID required. Have your photo ID or drivers license ready for the poll worker” was included in polling materials given to Crawford County poll workers to display at polling sites. Photo identification is not required to cast a ballot during this election.

Voter Services Director Melanie Mushrush said early Tuesday afternoon that the sign was created by her office and included in packets for poll workers after the state legislature passed a photo id law that was to be in place for this election. The state courts have since put off implementation of the law, but the signs were never removed from poll workers’ packets.

“We just failed to pull it,” said Mushrush. “It’s just a mistake on my part.”

The signs were displayed for several hours this morning, but Mushrush did not know at how many polling places. Having been informed by voters who saw the signs this morning, by 9:30 a.m., Voter Services workers were contacting polling places to have them removed. Polls opened at 7 a.m.

Meadville attorney Terry Toomey, who serves as the county attorney for the Democratic Voter Protection Program, saw one of the signs at his polling place at Holland Towers in Meadville this morning and reported it to the county.

He is concerned that some voters may not cast a ballot when they see the sign, but as of this morning he had no confirmed instances of this happening.

Meadville resident Judy Heeschen removed the sign when she saw it at her polling place this morning and took it down to the Voter Services Office to complain.

The signs may not have been the only confusion over voter identification at Crawford County polls or even statewide, according to county Democratic Chair Diane Adsit. By late morning, Adsit said she had received reports of Crawford County poll workers “demanding” identification from voters. She had also received reports of signs similar to those in Crawford County appearing “sporadically” across the state.

Alerted to the signs in Crawford County by The Meadville Tribune, the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, was contacting all counties to ensure no signs indicating id was required were displayed, according to spokesperson Matthew Keeler. As for the Crawford County signs, Keeler said “this is something that could be looked at later” by the Department of State.

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