Last updated: February 19. 2013 5:27PM - 732 Views

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Elaine Maddon Curry's presence inside Hazleton polling places on Nov. 6 has prompted a citizen complaint to the Luzerne County Election Board and criticism from a fellow county council member.

Maddon Curry said she personally assisted four of roughly 20 Hazleton area Latino voters who came to the Obama Hazleton headquarters, where she was a volunteer, to report their names were not located in voter registration records at their polling places on election day.

In all four cases, Maddon Curry said she contacted the county election bureau so the voters could determine if they were listed in registration records. Three of the four were listed.

Maddon Curry said she asked the county election office to contact the applicable polling places to inform the judges of election the voters would be returning. The fourth person was advised to return and vote on a provisional ballot.

Maddon Curry said the polling places should have contacted the county election office on the voters' behalf, and she also questioned why only one of the four was initially offered the opportunity to vote on a provisional ballot.

The man who voted on a provisional ballot wanted to return to vote on a machine because he feared the provisional would not be counted, she said.

Maddon Curry said all four voters asked her to accompany them on their return to polling places. She said she explained the situation to the judges of election but never identified herself as a county councilwoman. She also said she retreated when the citizens voted and did not interact with election workers about any other matters.

The man who voted on a provisional ballot was permitted to use the electronic voting machine after the paper ballot was torn up at the direction of the judge of elections, she said.

I was doing my civic duty. The best part of this story is that citizens who were legally entitled to vote were given the opportunity to vote, and I am proud that I was able to help them do that, Maddon Curry said.

Activist disagrees

Hazleton resident Kathy Dobash disagreed, demanding Maddon Curry's resignation during Tuesday's county council meeting and disclosing her filing of a complaint against the councilwoman with the election board.

Dobash said Maddon Curry had no authority to be present inside polling places and accused her of using the authority of her elected office to interfere with the results of an election.

The public needs to know and you need to know the validity of my complaint, Dobash said.

County Councilman Stephen A. Urban agreed, saying election officials, poll workers and poll watchers with certificates are the only people allowed inside polling places other than voters.

Polling places are equipped to provide or obtain assistance, including translation services, at the request of voters, he said.

Urban also questioned why the voter who used a provisional ballot was allowed to vote again on the machine.

Votes from 42 of 325 provisional ballots cast in the county Nov. 6 were counted after the election office reviewed voter registration records, officials said.

The appearance of non-election elected officials in polling places is disheartening, Urban said, noting he viewed polling places as sacred.

There's a perception. You're an elected official. You shouldn't be there, Urban said.

Complaint under review

County Election Board Solicitor Mike Butera said he will review the complaint and provide a legal opinion to the election board in the near future.

Criminal violations are generally referred to authorities, while technical violations with no malice may be handled in-house, he said. For example, someone who unknowingly committed a violation that didn't impact the results of an election may be briefed on the law and receive a warning, he said.

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