As a Chester County Commissioner, Kathi Cozzone has worked hard to protect voter's rights--just ask the Lincoln University students and residents assigned to the Lower Oxford East Precinct. Cozzone, one of three Chester County Commissioners and the lone Democrat, voted her conscience in September 2008 when the Board of Elections considered a petition signed by both local Democrats and Republicans to relocate the polling place from a smaller, inadequate facility to a previously used site in a gymnasium on the nearby Lincoln University campus. Listening to the concerns of her constituents, she voted in favor of the move because the proposed location was safer, more accessible, and overall better equipped to accommodate the 1,000+ voters who were expected to turn out in November. Cozzone explained her decision to the Daily Local:"I think that moving it to Lincoln University gives us the opportunity to provide a safe environment for the voters, to provide a timely environment for the voters and to get all the voters to vote."
However, Republican Commissioners Carol Aichele (now PA's current Secretary of the Commonwealth) and Terence Farrell both voted against the move for partisan reasons but cited flimsy excuses and exaggerated "concerns" about the relocation plan to justify denial of the petition. There were 1,556 ballots cast at the Lower Oxford East polling place on Election Night 2008 --- over 500 more than initially projected. Wait times were from six to eight hours because there were only six voting booths, one ballot scanner and one restroom. In April 2009, there was a similar proposal and the Republican Commissioners collectively chose to ignore the legitimate concerns of the people while, once again, Commissioner Cozzone was the only dissenter. Subsequently, the County was sued (see English, et al. v. Chester County) because of the extremely long wait times and hazardous conditions at the polling place, and was settled in favor of the Plaintiffs, wasting thousands of tax dollars on a lawsuit that could have easily been prevented.
In an August 2010 Daily Local Article, Commissioner Cozzone remarked on the outcome of the case: "When all was said and done, the right resolution to the issue of Lower Oxford East's polling place was reached. The recent settlement will allow all the precinct's residents to vote in a location with good parking, plenty of space and a safe place to wait in line. While I am pleased with the settlement, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this outcome was available to the County before legal action was taken, and taxpayer money was spent."
MORE AT DAILY KOS: