PHILADELPHIA — Voters in Pennsylvania’s largest city were able to cast their ballots on Tuesday without intimidation or other major disruptions, despite threats by white nationalist groups to monitor the polls.
Sara Mullen, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania, told The Daily Beast that they have received “no serious complaints” of voter intimidation.
“We have had a few complaints about overly aggressive campaigning by both parties outside polling places, but those were very minor,” Mullen said.
In the north and west parts of Philadelphia, precinct captains and volunteers told The Daily Beast that turnout was strong and voters did not feel like they were being intimidated or harrassed.
Politico reported last week that white nationalists and neo-Nazis were planning to blitz urban areas in an effort to suppress the vote. A representative from an alt-right website said groups of followers were planning to hand out liquor and mairjuana to voters so that they would stay home.
In response, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey asked the Justice Department to deploy resources to areas that might be affected. The request was granted, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said officials from the department’s civil rights division would be sent to Philadelphia, among other cities, to enforce election laws.
In addition to federal officials, volunteers with the non-partisan Election Protection Coalition were sent across the city to monitor the polls and assist voters who were having registration issues. Philadelphia has a high number of small voting precincts, so most voters are able to walk a short distance to their polling place.
“We didn’t see any voter intimidation or any violations of election law,” said Glen Forster, a poll-monitor volunteer and law student at the University of Pennsylvania. But, Forester said, some voters were entered into the system incorrectly and were therefore required to vote in precincts far away from where they live. Forester and other volunteers ensured that these individuals were able to get to those locations via taxi or Uber.
“Many hard-working and hopeful volunteers have guarded their own communities’, friends’ and families’ right to vote for generations of elections,” said Leah Wong, another volunteer and law student at the University of Pennsylvania.