CCRC Chair Skip Brion was part of a Commonwealth wide effort to disrupt mostly Democratic voting precincts.
Early on the General Election Day of 2004 several Republican attorneys from Spring City showed up outside of Coatesville's Fifth Ward (precinct 120). When the polls opened they went inside and I saw elderly black women coming out of the polls saying, "They won't let me vote."
When the Democratic attorney was inside the polling place everything was peaceful. When the Democratic attorney took a break, again people were walking out saying they won't let me vote.
The effect of all that Republican muscle in Coatesville's Fifth Ward was stopping long time voters from voting.
I can't understand why they brought in lawyers from Spring City and why CCRC Chairman Skippy Brion was screaming at a Democratic poll watcher inside the polling place in front of voters but I don't have the mind of a Republican.
But I do think that if the Republicans persisted in stopping long time voters from voting there would have been violent incidents at the Fifth Ward."
In 2004, hundreds of University of Pittsburgh students waited for hours to vote in the presidential election. The local Democratic Party, alarmed at the bottleneck, handed out pizza and water to encourage the students to stay. Pittsburgh Steelers Hall-of-Famer Franco Harris worked the line, armed with a giant bag of Dunkin Donuts, and Liz Berlin of the Pittsburgh band Rusted Root performed on guitar.
The stalled line wasn’t because of the high turnout. It was what was happening at the check-in desk.
“The attorneys for the Republican Party were challenging the credentials of pretty much every young voter who showed up,” recalls Pat Clark, a Pittsburgh activist and registered Democrat who was working for an election-protection group that day.
The GOP attorneys were acting as poll watchers. A common practice in many states, partisan poll watching helps parties get out the vote and keep an eye out for irregularities. But in Pennsylvania, laws governing how observers can challenge voters are unusually broad, and that makes them susceptible to abuse…
“Instead of seeing orderly poll watching,” says Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, “we might see a lot of individuals trying to take on the role of election officials or law enforcement, and crossing the line into intimidation, discrimination and polling place disruption.”