What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 9, 2007

I know we're supposed to let this go, but . . .

On election day Agent Ska published some photographs of Luke Ravenstahl and posse visiting a polling place.

While candidates may be allowed inside a polling place other than their own to act as a properly authorized poll watcher, no one is allowed to electioneer inside a polling place nor are any campaign materials (lit, T-shirts, buttons, etc.) allowed within a polling place.

Ska's pictures were mentioned at the Post-Gazette's Early Returns blog, she was interviewed on KDKA Radio and eventually the whole thing was basically fluffed off as not being significant (despite the fact that Ravenstahl had a few people with him and reportedly his wife had on campaign button).

However, Ska has posted an additional picture.

It shows Yarone Zober, Ravenstahl's chief of staff, inside the polling place with campaign materials in hand and according to Ska, handing out the lit.

Sorry, folks, but this is clearly illegal and Ska quotes the relevant statue here.

I've poll watched many times and while I've seen candidates inside the polling place, EVERYONE knows that you can't have any campaign materials on you and I've never observed either a candidate or anyone with them handing out campaign materialsinside the polls.

There have been many times when I've done double duty of handing out lit outside and frequently going in to check who's voted inside and each and every time before I've gone inside, I've followed the law and hid my campaign T-shirt, taken off buttons/stickers and shoved any campaign lit inside a purse, bag or coat. This is just what you have to do when you poll watch.

Yarone was breaking the law.


It should be even more distressing when you realize that Zober is a city official and his salary is paid for by the public.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Yarone should've taken his campaign button off, and given his intern the task of standing outside the polling place with his materials. Or Yarone could've stood outside the polling place while the Mayor said hi to the election judges.

Maria said...

You absolutely cannot have campaign materials inside a polling place and I've seen poll workers yell at people for even having some stuff peeking out of a bag or shoved under their arm or who have absentmindedly forgotten to take off a button.

To actually stand inside and hand out lit is simply beyond the pale.

Anonymous said...


On another note, is Yarone now a "one-name" local celebrity, you know like Maddona, though I guess Yanni is probably a better synonym.

Maria said...

I just want to know what he said about the Judge's Mom...

Sue said...

So how does this move from a blog to actual charges being filed? Does someone have to file a complaint?

Maria said...

I believe someone whould have to file a complaint.

Anonymous said...

John K.says: So who is going to prosecute him. The DA, not likely. Federal Attorney Buchanon, not likely. You lefties whine when she does saying it is politically motivated. So Ravenstahl and Zober can get with what they want. Provided it isn't too blatant. Pittsburgh, the liberal paradise.

Bram Reichbaum said...

I am glad to hear you say it was a clear violation of the law ... I am tempted to agree ... but I really really want this to get to a point where a judge rules on this.

I've heard arguments that it may NOT have been, and that would be fine. But I have heard far more arguements that the practice is "common" and "no bid deal", and that is not fine.

We pick and choose laws at our peril. If we do not take them seriously, sooner or later we will turn around and wonder where the line went. If the law is silly, we should change it, but if it's there and being ignored, we should know and stop ignoring it.

Jennifer said...

Politicians going inside to shake the hand of the judge of election--common. Handing out lit (even carrying a pile with a visible name on it) NOT common. I've also been shooed out of polling places for having on a button, a shirt (even under a jacked but I was unzipped) or lit. I know better. EVERYONE who has ever worked a poll knows better. We've all had it drilled into our heads by election officials that it is a big no-no. Of course, I don't recall ever handing out lit for an endorsed candidate (except presidential). Maybe that is the trick... :)

Anonymous said...

I lived in NYS many years ago. In fact, I grew up there. Grew up with parents who were deeply involved in politics. So I've seen quite a bit.

What I don't understand about PA is why the state allows electioneering ANYONE NEAR polling places! I was stunned when I moved here and, on my first Election Day, found people handing out crap 20ft. from the door and holding up these giant signs with candidates names on them.

This should simple be eliminated. Period. Change the law so that electioneering of any sort can't happen within 500 ft. of a polling place and this will never be an issue again. Simple. Clean. Case closed.

However, this is PA. A backwater of back room politics. If it happens while I'm still alive, let me know. I won't hold my breath.


Infinonymous said...

That wasn't a lefty alerting Congress to the political nature of the prosecutorial conduct in the United States Attorney's office under Mary Beth Buchanan. That was Richard Thornburgh, former governor and attorney general . . . and a once, current and future Republican. Mr. Thornburgh's observations are congruent with the statistical evidence.

If D.A. Zappala were to base a charging or investigative decision based on politics . . . that would qualify him for service in the Bush Jr. Justice Department, and there are plenty of openings at the top of that department these days, come to think of it.

If John K. gets lathered up by the idea of a politician getting away with some hamhanded, low-rent electioneering, I wonder how he would respond to a Justice Department looking the other way while government officials engage in torture, unlawful surveillance, kidnapping, open-ended detention without trial and other un-American misconduct.

Be sure to let us know, John K.

Lefty said...

Infin0 - most decisions to prosecute high profile cases involve some form of politics. When a certain democratic leader in county government and his father were caught having people sign petitions for others w/o their permission, the decision was to NOT prosecute.

When a certain Repub's staffer signed a petition's affidavit saying that they themselves had gathered the signatures, and it was later discovered that another staffer had forged several signatures on that petition; but was willing to testify - the other staffer was indicted (See the Deb Romanello case).

Politics often play a huge role in who gets prosecuted and who does not.