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News :: Politics
Voter blocks the polls
by Wil Belichick
Email: peacefulness_please (nospam) hotmail.com
10 Nov 2005
Story from Pennsylvania about a voter that bloked the polls on Tuesday. According to him "99% accurate". He has posted his email on other indymedia sites, so I'll give it out here as well. tim_grier (at) hotmail.com
Posted on Wed, Nov. 09, 2005
Protester in W-B blocks the vote
W-B man spends half hour in booth protesting difficulties third party candidates have.
By JERRY LYNOTT jlynott (at) leader.net
WILKES-BARRE – By any measure, a half an hour in a voting booth is a long time. Even Tim Grier admits it.
The city man said it was necessary to spend 30 minutes behind the curtains to protest what he views as an unfair electoral process. It should be easier for independent and third-party candidates to get on the ballot, he said.
“I went in there with the intent of letting people know,” said Grier, 31, sitting in his home on Carey Avenue, a few blocks from the polling place in the city’s 15th Ward, 5th District.
He left the booth without casting a vote in Gilroy’s garage.
But Luzerne County Voter Registration Director Leonard Piazza sees nothing civil about Grier’s disobedience. “At the present time we’re considering pressing charges against Mr. Grier.”
Grier might be charged with the disobeying lawful instructions statute of the Pennsylvania Election Code. The misdemeanor offense is punishable by a $500 fine and up to one year in prison.
He learned of the problem at the polling place early Tuesday afternoon when Constable Walter Griffith called. At that time Grier had been in the booth for more than 20 minutes.
Griffith, who is on the ballot as judge of election at the polling place, said he phoned Piazza to inquire about how long a voter can spend in the booth.
“The judge of elections thought he might have been tampering with the machine,” Griffith said.
Piazza said state law says three minutes, but a judge of elections can use his discretion if there is no one waiting to vote.
A line was forming inside Gilroy’s garage, at the corner of Willow Street and Plymouth Avenue, said Griffith and judge of elections Elwood Rosengrant.
Piazza said he spoke to Grier twice inside the polling booth by way of a cell phone Griffith provided.
The second time Piazza instructed Grier to leave because he was holding up others from voting.
Grier confirmed Piazza’s account. “He kept asking me when I would leave. I said, ‘When I vote.’ ”
“When I give an instruction to someone, it’s on behalf of the county board of elections,” Piazza said afterward.
Adding to the delay was the presence of Griffith, Grier said. He thought Griffith had no business in the polling place because his name was on the ballot.
“It made me uncomfortable,” Grier said. “It made me take a long time.”
Piazza dismissed Grier’s claim, saying Griffith was allowed inside because he was not running for a municipal office.
During the second call, Piazza said, he told Griffith sheriff’s deputies would be dispatched to remove Grier.
At that point, according to Griffith, Grier tried to open the curtains but could not pull the handle to spread them. He left without opening them.
Rosengrant said the curtains would not open because Grier did not cast a vote.
Griffith followed Grier out of the garage and told him to stay put because the deputies were on their way. Grier said he asked Griffith if “he could lawfully detain him.”
When Griffith said he could not, Grier walked home with the constable following.
Police responded to Grier’s home from a call Griffith made to the county 911 center. A record’s check showed no outstanding warrants and Grier was free to go.
Grier later went to Piazza’s office to file a complaint for his problem at the polling place.
Piazza said the only other major problem reported Tuesday was the late opening of the Plymouth Borough Ward 8 polling place. The other 315 precincts opened at 7 a.m., he said. “We’re very pleased with that.”
Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7237.
This work is in the public domain