Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Project Polling Place

The best way to get our 'No, No, 67 Times No!' message out to the public is to post volunteers at polling places across Pennsylvania on November 6 to help educate voters before they go into the polls.

PACleanSweep's plan of action to facilitate this effort is to compile a list of all polling places in the Commonwealth so we can assign volunteers to high-traffic polls. Our plan has run into a bit of a bureaucratic snafu and as a result we're going to need YOUR help.

The information required to compile such a list used to be available from the Department of State. This year, however, the state has decided not to provide this information. In a phone conversation with Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation Commissioner Harry Van Sickle and attorney Al Masland, PACleanSweep was told that a statewide list of polling places is not available due to Homeland Security concerns.

We were informed the decision to make such information unavailable came from the Governor's office in response to terrorism incidents in Spain in 2005. We have attempted to confirm this policy in writing with Mr. Masland and Governor Rendell's spokesman Chuck Ardo without success as of yet.

Although we certainly understand security concerns and the possibility of polling place information falling into the "wrong hands," we question whether such a policy should be extended to a statewide political organization that is fully registered with the Department of State and files regular timely reports regarding every single penny it receives and spends.

Have the terrorists won? Should the fear of terrorism be allowed to interfere with the democratic process of voting, free speech and the freedom of information? We'll leave those questions for the philosopher kings to answer. Meanwhile, we have work to do to prepare for the November 6 election.

The Department of State informed PACleanSweep that we'll need to obtain this information from the 67 different county Boards of Elections rather than from one unified source. In response, we're launching Project Polling Place.

To make this project a success, we need a volunteer from every county in Pennsylvania to interface with their local Board of Elections. The volunteer will need to obtain a complete list of his or her county's polling places. Once the volunteer has obtained the list, PACleanSweep will figure out the best way to get the information into a format that best helps us assign volunteers to specific polling places on Election Day.

If you'd like to help with Project Polling Place, here is what you need to do:

1. Call your county Board of Elections. Click the link at the bottom of this message for the contact info for all 67 contacts in Pennsylvania.

2. Ask if they will provide you with a list of polling places in your county that includes the name of the building where the polling place is located, its street address and any unique identifying numbers assigned to that polling place (precinct, ward, etc.)

3. Ask if you can get the list in electronic or printed form and how soon they can have it ready for you. (Electronic form is preferable to ease our workload, but a printed list is fine, too.)

4. Go to the county elections office in person to pick up the list. You'll need to show ID and sign a form stating that you will not publish the list on the internet. If the form asks which organization you are affiliated with, write PACleanSweep PAC.

5. Once you have the list in hand, email us a reply this message and we'll move forward from there. Please include a phone number where someone can reach you.

Please be polite, courteous and professional when dealing with your county elections staff!

We asked for a list of Lebanon County polling places just today and obtained it without any hassles. We thank the Lebanon County office for their excellent and helpful response to our request. However, we still need the information for 66 other counties - and that's why we need YOUR help - and AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

We need a few other volunteers for Project Polling Place as well. These volunteers need to be able to transfer information into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet from the lists we obtain. Having a fax number will also help speed things along, but is not required. Please reply to this email if you can help with this part of Project Polling Place.

In the PACleanSweep Judicial Retention Poll, less than 13 percent of respondents said they worked a poll during our campaign against Nigro and Newman in 2005, but over 42 percent said they would do so in 2007 if we launched a similar campaign.

If we don't know where to assign these volunteers, however, we risk having some polls unnecessarily double-covered on Election Day while other heavy- traffic polling places might remain totally uncovered. This would not be an efficient use of volunteers or other resources. PACleanSweep wants to be as effective as possible on Election Day and that's why we need YOUR help in this matter!

We'd like to get these lists together ASAP, so the quicker you get moving the better we'll be prepared for Election Day! Let's make Project Polling Place a mere speedbump on the road to reform!

Contact Your County Board of Elections

PACleanSweep Judicial Retention Poll Results

About PACleanSweep

PACleanSweep is a non-partisan effort dedicated to reforming state government in Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit

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