PA voting complaints count: 12

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Staff report

The city of Port Arthur fielded a dozen complaints related to voting for mayor during the early voting period and on voting day for the May 4 election.

The City Secretary’s Office released a synopsis of the complaints Friday in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Port Arthur News.

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Those who filed complaints included: mayoral candidates Thurman Bartie, 1; Derrick Freeman, 1; Willie Lewis, 1; Chuck Vincent, 3.

Others who reported complaints included workers for the Freeman campaign, Glenda Pattison, election workers at the Memorial 9th Grade polling site and Port Arthur Public Library director Steven Williams.

The Port Arthur City Council held a brief discussion at Tuesday’s meeting at the request of Mayor Pro Tem Harold Doucet on the topic of electioneering outside the 100-feet distance marker from the polls.

Complaints received by the city secretary’s office included:

  • Anonymous complaint that campaign workers were crossing the 100-feet campaign exclusion area to hand out literature. Secretary Sherri Bellard called each mayoral candidate’s campaign to tell them that was not permitted.
  • Willie Lewis complained that the mayor’s mother, Deborah Freeman, was sitting inside the polling place. Bellard called the mayor and his mother to explain the law.
  • Shannon Freeman and Chuck Vincent complained that Thurman Bartie’s campaign worker was playing loud music in the parking lot outside a polling area. Bellard called Bartie, who called the campaign worker.
  • Steven Williams, library director, said campaign workers were stopping cars before the drivers parked to hand out materials. Williams said that created a traffic backlog into Ninth Avenue, a potentially dangerous situation. Police Chief Tim Duriso was called to the scene.
  • Chuck Vincent complained that Freeman campaign workers were crossing the 100-foot line; that the mayor’s mother was being rude to being in the library restroom; that Mayor Freeman yelled at people across the parking lot to not pass the 100-foot mark; that campaign workers were parking within the 100-foot marker; and that Vincent was not satisfied with how the polling location judge responded to his complaints. Bellard asked Vincent to file a written complaint; she said she did not receive one. She also said she repeated the election code to the mayor’s mother about bringing handicapped voters to the polls.
  • Thurman Bartie complained that there was loud music in the polling location. The presiding judge at the polls checked, and said there was no loud music.
  • Chuck Vincent complained a campaign worker at City Hall felt threatened by Freeman campaign workers, was frightened and left the area. The city secretary said the complaint was not substantiated by the person who reported the complaint to Vincent. Bellard also called Duriso, who said the campaign worker could file a complaint. Vincent said he did not think the worker would do that.
  • Vincent complained that Freeman and Bartie campaign workers had “a big blow up” at the library and some people had to be held back to keep from fighting.
  • Shannon Freeman complained that Vincent campaign workers were moving cones, the distance markers. Vincent told Bellard the distance markers were moved that morning from their previous location. Bellard said that she contacted the secretary of state’s office, who told her to have a 100-foot marker painted.
  • On Election Day, power went out at the 9th Grade Memorial polling location due to a storm. The location was up and running by 7:03 a.m. It later went down for nine minutes; the poll judge said one voter left the polls rather than wait because the voter had to go to a baseball game.
  • At 9:55 a.m. on May 4, Glenda Pattison reported machines down at Memorial 9th Grade polling site and said voters had been turned away. She said the Secretary of State’s Office told her the polls could remain open later to make up for the inconvenience. Bellard called the secretary of state’s office; she said an attorney told her no one from Port Arthur had called and that the city should not extend polling hours by nine minutes without a judge’s order.
  • Memorial 9th Grade poll workers said campaign workers were fighting between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Three police units were sent to the scene.


See also: Election deadlines told: Doucet sworn in as mayor pro tem