Operators of a Philadelphia polling place have been ordered by a judge toÂ cover up a mural of President Obama that is emblazoned on a wall behind theÂ voting machines.
The mural was being covered by voter instruction posters — after RepublicansÂ voiced concerns that the painting could influence voters.
The mural, apparently at a school being used as a polling site in Ward 35,Â contained the words “change!” and “hope,” along with a quote from the presidentÂ and painting of him.
Republicans quickly drew attention to the image Tuesday morning, with oneÂ Mitt Romney spokesman tweeting: “Voters in Philly’s Ward 35 are being forced toÂ cast their ballots next to this.”
“It is an absolute disgrace,” said Shannon Royer, deputy secretary forÂ external affairs and elections in Pennsylvania. “Election materials andÂ electioneering inside the polling place are prohibited by state law. This can beÂ interpreted as trying to influence voters inside the polling place. I am toldÂ discussions are going on now about covering the mural.”
Pennsylvania election law states “no person within a polling place mayÂ electioneer or solicit votes for any political party, political body, orÂ candidate, nor may any unauthorized written orÂ printed materials be postedÂ within the polling place.”
It was one of several controversies surfacing in Pennsylvania’s largest cityÂ on Election Day.
A Pennsylvania judge also issued an order Tuesday to reinstate RepublicanÂ election officials across Philadelphia who allegedly were ejected or refusedÂ entry by on-site Democratic voting chief judges.
One Republican official claimed that “just under 70” Republican electionÂ officials were blocked from Philadelphia polling sites Tuesday morning byÂ Democrats on site. One of them, the official claimed, “was shoved out of theÂ polling place.”
“For this many inspectors to be ejected from polling places is rare, even forÂ Philadelphia,” the official told FoxNews.com.
Elsewhere in the city, a representative from the New Black Panther Party wasÂ also spotted outside a polling site. The New Black Panthers stirred controversyÂ in 2008 when members appeared outside a polling site, one of them holding aÂ billy club. The representative seen Tuesday morning was not armed.
The flap over the election judges, though, was widespread. Republicans claimÂ they are obtaining a series of court orders to seat the so-called electionÂ “inspectors,” and sheriff’s deputies will be available to escort them.
Despite the high number of officials who were allegedly booted, the disputeÂ itself is not uncommon for Philadelphia. Fred Voigt, legal counsel for the cityÂ commissioners, said these kinds of face-offs happen “with regularity” in theÂ City of Brotherly Love.
“It happens all the time,” Voigt said. He said court-appointed RepublicanÂ officials typically show up on Election Day and end up squaring off againstÂ stand-in officials at the polling sites filling in the open seats. Part ofÂ the problem, he said, is that the Republican inspectors are appointed onÂ relatively short notice, leading to a string of confrontations on ElectionÂ Day.
“There are no cool heads here,” Voigt said.
The on-site election officials are responsible for verifying the identity ofÂ voters, and monitoring for signs of fraud or disenfranchisement.
Source: Fox News