On Election Day 2006, I had been barricaded out of a polling place, had a camera intentionally knocked out of my hand by a deputy of Democratic Congressman Bob Brady, and was (for my own safety so I was told), before convincing a judge that I had every right to record video outside of a polling place, prompting him to immediately release me with no charges.
There was talk of a resident who recently passed away (meaning there’s a vacancy), but there was zero chatter about a “Voter Confidence Press Conference.” Held in City Hall less than two hours earlier, a group of city, state and federal officials assured anybody who listened that the upcoming election is not rigged, despite paranoid ramblings to the contrary.What prompted the officials – among them, state Sen.Vincent Hughes, City Commissioner Al Schmidt and David Thornburgh of the Committee of Seventy – to hold that event was the fallout from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump saying, among many things, that:“We have to make sure the people of Philadelphia are protected that the vote counts are 100 percent.Everybody wants that, but I hear these horror shows.(3) Whether we should call DOJ’s subsequent actions a “cover-up” as Jonathan says or not, DOJ certainly did a very poor job explaining its actions.
And it is only from the OPR report that one can get a clear sense as to the bona fide dispute among those at DOJ over how to handle the case.
Just about a year ago, a controversy was making it’s way through the conservative blogosphere that arose out of an incident at a Philadelphia, PA voting place on Election Day 2008 where two men representing something called the “New Black Panther Party”” were standing outside purporting to intimidate voters while a Fox News Channel camera recorded the whole thing. Commission on Civil Rights where Abigail Thernstrom, a Republican member of the Commission, called the case “small potatoes” while others on the right attempted to turn it into a huge scandal.
The incident was investigated by the Department of Justice and, before Barack Obama became President, the decision was made not to pursue criminal charges in the matter. The controversy mostly died out when the Summer of 2010 ended and people began focusing on the election, but Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog notes that there was a final report issued by the DOJ back in March and it turns out that the whole story really was much ado about nothing: (1) the original NBPP controversy really was small potatoes, as Abby Thernstrom and Jonathan Adler concluded.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened, according to numerous media accounts: On Election Day, Nov.
4, 2008, the New Black Panther Party sent 300 members to polling places across Philadelphia.
This was a tiny incident in a single polling place about which there was not proof of a single intimidated voter.