Close Close Comment Creative Commons Donate Email Add Email Facebook Instagram Facebook Messenger Mobile Nav Menu Podcast Print RSS Search Secure Twitter WhatsApp YouTube

Philadelphia Denies Trump Campaign Allegation of Banning Republican Poll Watchers

The city says that a widely viewed video of a GOP poll watcher being turned away was an isolated and quickly corrected incident resulting from confusion over the rules.

A voter walks up to a booth to cast her ballot at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published. Having issues voting? You can tell us about it or read ProPublica’s voting guides in English and Spanish.

Leer en Español.

Philadelphia officials are denying a Trump campaign operative’s allegation that Republican poll watchers are being excluded from voting sites around the city.

Mike Roman, the Trump campaign’s national Election Day operations director, retweeted a video early Tuesday morning that appears to show a Republican poll watcher being turned away from a polling place in the city.

Roman added: “DEMOCRAT ELECTION OFFICIALS BANNING TRUMP POLL WATCHERS IN PHILLY. This is happening all over the City. The steal is on!”

Kevin Feeley, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia City Commissioners, which run the city’s elections, told ProPublica that Roman’s allegation is flatly untrue.

“Nonsense,” Feeley said. “That’s not happening.”

Feeley said the video represented an isolated incident and was the result of confusion about whether poll watchers had to be assigned to particular locations or could roam around the city. He said poll watchers are permitted to visit multiple voting sites. “The mistake was corrected, and the guy was admitted,” Feeley said. “We remain confident that the election will be open, honest and produce accurate results.”

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment. Roman didn’t immediately respond to messages.

Will Chamberlain, editor of the conservative magazine Human Events, appears to have first published the video online. He told ProPublica that he took the video outside Mitchum-Wilson Funeral Home in the city’s Point Breeze neighborhood. It appears to take place on Reed Street, though the video, which is just over 30 seconds long, cannot be independently verified. The video had more than 1 million views as of 11 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, and the allegations were picked up on Breitbart.

Chamberlain identified Gary Feldman, a local Republican activist, as the poll watcher in the video. Feldman didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Roman has a long history of alleging voter fraud in the state. He is known for having promoted a video showing members of the New Black Panthers allegedly intimidating voters outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. A veteran of the Trump White House and the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch’s political operation, Roman has returned to his native Pennsylvania for the Trump campaign and “led an aggressive effort that hasn’t waited for Election Day to begin challenging the voting process,” according to an Associated Press profile published this week.

First Draft contributed reporting.

Filed under:

Protect Independent Journalism

This story you’ve just finished was funded by our readers. We hope it inspires you to make a gift to ProPublica so that we can publish more investigations like this one that hold people in power to account and produce real change.

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that produces nonpartisan, evidence-based journalism to expose injustice, corruption and wrongdoing. We were founded over 10 years ago to fill a growing hole in journalism: Newsrooms were (and still are) shrinking, and legacy funding models are failing. Deep-dive reporting like ours is slow and expensive, and investigative journalism is a luxury in many newsrooms today — but it remains as critical as ever to democracy and our civic life. More than a decade (and six Pulitzer Prizes) later, ProPublica has built the largest investigative newsroom in the country. Our work has spurred reform through legislation, at the voting booth and inside our nation’s most important institutions.

Your year-end donation will help us ensure that we can continue this critical work into 2021. From COVID-19, to our elected officials, to racial and criminal justice and much more, we are busier than ever covering stories you won’t see anywhere else. Make your gift of any amount today and join the tens of thousands of ProPublicans across the country, standing up for the power of independent journalism to produce real, lasting change. Thank you.

Donate Now

Portrait of Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a ProPublica reporter covering politics and government accountability. To securely send Justin documents or other files online, visit our SecureDrop page.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

Questions? Read our FAQ.

Follow Electionland

Partners

and 150+ local and national newsrooms. Sign up to become a partner here.

Technical Partners

More Election Tools

The User’s Guide to Democracy

Congress works for you. Here’s how to be a better boss.

Represent

See what your representatives in Congress say and do.

ProPublica on IFTTT

Do more with ProPublica data and automated notifications.

Latest Stories from ProPublica

Current site Current page