Poll Workers Tell Of Election Day Confrontations In 7th Ward

As we predicted in today's story, many of the subpoenaed judges of election and other poll workers from the 7th Democratic Ward didn't show up this morning for a Philadelphia City Commission hearing on problems in the May 18 primary election for the 180th state House race.  But a few described an election day filled with angry confrontations between state Rep. Angel Cruz, the 7th Ward leader, and challenger Jonathan Ramos.

Maxamina Martinez, a judge of elections in the 7th Ward's 18th Division, described a "big commotion" when Cruz supporters refused to allow Ramos to enter the polling place, even though he had a valid certificate as a poll watcher.  Security guards from the public school where the polling place was located had to help quell the disturbance, she said. "He had a poll watchers certificate," Martinez said. "So I don't know what the big deal was. But they were physically not permitting him to come in."

Jessica Perez, a majority inspector in the 7th Ward's 13th division, said Cruz angrily confronted a poll worker who snapped a picture of the state representative accompanying a woman into a ballot booth as she voted.

Election Supervisor Bob Lee read into the record several questions he would have asked the poll workers who did not show up for the hearing.  Among those unanswered questions:  Were voters given unwanted assistance in casting ballots, were people registered in other political parties allowed to vote in the Democratic primary and where are some election materials that were never returned to the city?

The state Attorney General's Office is investigating the election, which Cruz won by 124 votes, after the case was referred by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.