Your City Paper staff is straggling in to the office this morning, after having waited in line at the polls between 20 and 90 minutes. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald too is reporting the longest lines he's seen in years.
Right now, we're waiting to see how a story we first anticipated a couple weeks ago will play out. Will Tea Party activists, who apparently intend to monitor polling places in response to trumped-up voter fraud threats, disrupt the election?
Yesterday, voter-protection groups announced that an activist who'd attended a Republican poll-watching seminar had compiled a partial list of polling places Republicans are targeting. The city precincts on that list are pasted below, but suffice it to say that majority-black districts -- in Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, the Hill District, the North Side and city's East End -- are over-represented. Community groups have already sent a letter to the federal Department of Justice, warning that Republican activities have "the purpose or potential significant effect of deterring qualified African-American voters in Allegheny." The groups are urging the DOJ to follow up and monitor today's election proceedings.
Meanwhile, the GOP's own account of the situation has shifted. Initially, local Tea Partier Patty Weaver professed wide-eyed amazement at claims the GOP had some sort of list, telling the Post-Gazette "no precinct lists were passed out. I have no idea where our accuser got the information." But the Huffington Post quoted Weaver and other party officials apparently acknowledging a list did exist -- while stressing racial motivations were not at work.
It may be worth noting that, when the Tea Party called for volunteers to monitor the polls in an Oct. 5, it warned recipients that "some of the areas that need poll watchers are not in the nicest part of town." (By way of reassurance, the e-mail also added that "The Republican Committee will try to set you up as close to your home as possible and place women in safer areas."
We'll soon find out if any of this has any effect. One City Paper employee, who lives in one of the districts named on the list of targeted precincts, voted this morning and said all was quiet. And as one longtime Democratic activist told me earlier this week, if Tea Partiers do show up in black wards, "All that's going to happen is these Tea Partiers are gonna get condescended to the curb by a bunch of old black ladies."
Let's hope so. If you hear of something else happening, call us at 412-316-3342, ext. 166, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's the list of wards allegedly targeted by Tea Party poll watchers:Pittsburgh 03 01 Pittsburgh 03 03 Pittsburgh 03 05 Pittsburgh 04 06 Pittsburgh 04 18 Pittsburgh 05 04 Pittsburgh 05 05 Pittsburgh 05 07 Pittsburgh 05 08 Pittsburgh 05 11 Pittsburgh 05 13 Pittsburgh 05 15 Pittsburgh 05 16 Pittsburgh 08 12 Pittsburgh 12 01 Pittsburgh 12 03 Pittsburgh 12 04 Pittsburgh 12 05 Pittsburgh 12 06 Pittsburgh 12 07 Pittsburgh 12 08 Pittsburgh 12 09 Pittsburgh 12 10 Pittsburgh 12 14 Pittsburgh 12 15 Pittsburgh 12 16 Pittsburgh 13 02 Pittsburgh 13 09 Pittsburgh 13 13 Pittsburgh 13 14 Pittsburgh 13 16 Pittsburgh 13 17 Pittsburgh 13 18 Pittsburgh 13 19 Pittsburgh 14 10 Pittsburgh 14 16 Pittsburgh 25 02 Pittsburgh 25 03 Pittsburgh 25 05 Pittsburgh 25 06 Pittsburgh 26 05 Pittsburgh 26 06