Friday, July 11, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Voter Told To Swear On Bible To Gain Access To Ballot

Here's an odd post-script to last week's General Election -- one Philadelphia voter is complaining that poll workers required her to put her hand on a Bible and swear to her identity before she could vote. Lindsay Granger put up a post on her blog on election day, saying, "I had to lay my palm on the good book and state my name and address before I was allowed to sign my name in the voting log and enter the booth. They called it an affirmation. I call it creepy...and a little offensive."

Voter Told To Swear On Bible To Gain Access To Ballot

Here's an odd post-script to last week's General Election -- one Philadelphia voter is complaining that poll workers required her to put her hand on a Bible and swear to her identity before she could vote.  Lindsay Granger put up a post on her blog on election day, saying, "I had to lay my palm on the good book and state my name and address before I was allowed to sign my name in the voting log and enter the booth. They called it an affirmation. I call it creepy...and a little offensive."

That, it turns out, is not the proper polling place procedure.  Voters can be required to sign an "affirmation" document if they are listed as inactive or there are questions about their address.  And this was Granger's first time voting in the 15th Ward's first division at Trinity Baptist Church in Fairmount.  But they are not required to swear on a Bible or anything else.

"If anything, I should swear on a Constitution or something," Granger wrote. "Voting is a civic responsibility, not a religious one...and isn't there supposed to be separation of Church and state?"

We confirmed Granger's story with Bob Lee, the City Commission's Voter Registration Administrator, who said Bibles have been included in polling place supplies for decades. They are used to swear in polling place workers before the election day starts.  Lee, who first heard about the incident from election website BradBlog.com, said the City Commission will update poll worker training as a result.

"We will definitely instruct all of the poll officials at our classes before the May primary election," Lee said.  "This is the first time I ever heard of them making a voter put their hand on a Bible before they fill out a form."

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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