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."

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