Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chelsea and the 75-foot rule

By Amanda Pinto
Register Staff
— Chelsea Clinton’s early-morning visit to a city polling place caused a stir Tuesday, fueling questions about whether the former first daughter was permitted in the area.
By law, candidates and those campaigning for them must stay at least 75 feet away from polling places, said Adam Joseph, spokesman for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz.
Joseph said the media notified him that Clinton, daughter of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, was inside a firehouse on Lombard Street, where voting took place Tuesday.
The call came in at about 8 a.m., and an e-mail reminding New Haven registrars that all supporters must stay outside the building was sent 20 minutes later, Joseph said.
Chelsea Clinton may have been delivering coffee and saying hello to poll workers, Joseph said.
He said he received conflicting reports as to whether she was inside the building prior to polls opening at 6 a.m., or just after the polls had opened.
“We have always maintained the 75-foot boundary during polling hours,” said Joseph, adding that after hours, candidates and their supporters are often allowed inside polling places to witness the vote count.
Joseph said the moderator is the “final arbiter” in charge of enforcing rules at a polling place.
If a supporter were to encroach on the 75-foot parameter, a frequent occurrence, moderators usually simply ask them to move, Joseph said.
“I think that happens in every election, where a supporter gets too close,” he said.
It was not clear whether a formal complaint was lodged against the Clinton campaign Tuesday. The state Elections Enforcement Commission could not be reached at press time.
The Connecticut for Hillary campaign had Chelsea Clinton and local surrogates from across the state greeting volunteers and voters at the polls in Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury and Bridgeport.

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