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VERIFY: Philadelphia poll watcher turned away in ‘honest mistake,’ city officials say

A viral video showed a poll watcher being turned away in Philadelphia. An official says it was because of an election judge's misunderstanding of the rules.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A viral video posted on Twitter early on Election Day gained traction because it appeared to show a Republican poll watcher being denied entry to a Philadelphia voting site.

Many of the posts claimed the man was being wrongly or illegally denied entry. 

THE QUESTION

Was a GOP poll watcher in Philadelphia wrongly turned away?

THE ANSWER

Yes. City officials later explained it was an “honest mistake” over the number listed on his certificate. The poll watcher moved on to another polling site afterwards.

WHAT WE FOUND

The situation arose from a misunderstanding, Kevin Feeley, media representative for the Philadelphia City Commissioners, explained to VERIFY. 

According to Feeley, the poll watcher had the correct certificate that would allow him to enter the site, but the election judge didn’t let him inside because the ward division number didn’t match that of the voting site. 

“It was an inadvertent and honest mistake,” Feeley said.
Feeley explained that regardless of the number on the certificate, the poll watcher was entitled to enter other voting sites in the jurisdiction.

After the incident, the rules were clarified for the election judge, but the poll watcher had moved on to another site.

However, by mid-afternoon the tweet had been viewed by millions and shared thousands of times after Will Chamberlain posted it with the #stopthesteal hashtag. Chamberlain’s description of himself includes senior counsel of the Article III Project, which fights “to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees and punch back at leftwing attacks on nominees.”

Stop the Steal is also the name of a 527 advocacy group titled formed by Trump operative Roger Stone, says Opensecrets.org, which tracks campaign spending. In 2016, the Michigan Democratic Party named Stop the Steal Inc. and Stone in a federal lawsuit contending the state’s Republican Party and the Trump campaign conspired to prevent minorities from voting in that election. 

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