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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)

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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.

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Justin Elliott

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