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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Tonya Trotter Claims Possible Voter Suppression, Irregularities, in Center City Allentown

Tonya Trotter was unsuccessful in her bid for a spot on the ballot in the Allentown Center City Magisterial District judge race. She is still waging a write-in campaign against incumbent Pat Engler, telling me she wants to demonstrate to her children that they should never quit, no matter how stacked the odds are against you. Hers is one of the many races I failed to cover. But Trotter still reached out to me yesterday to warn about possible voter suppression and Pat Engler's use of her own judicial offices as a polling place, in violation of the Election Code.

It was too late in the day for me to get Voting Registrar Tim Benyo's side of the story, and I will do that in the next few days. But Trotter's story is so compelling that I think I owe it to her to publish excerpts of her email to me.

Since you are a whistle blower with a wide audience, I was hoping you could help me with getting the word out about two things going on in Allentown involving the election.

First thing is voter suppression. The polling location for the 10th Ward, 1st District in Center City Allentown has been changed. Voters were not made aware of this and Election Day is tomorrow. I live in this district and I wasn't notified and neither were at least five other neighbors on my block. This leads me to believe that the notices were not sent out on purpose. This district has a high Latino and African American population.

The second thing is a polling location that was supposed to be changed because it's in violation of the PA Election Code, was not. I appeared in court on May 15, 2015, four days before the primary, opposite Tim Benyo, Chief Clerk of Lehigh County Board of Elections and John Ashcraft, Assistant County Solicitor.

The election code states, “No election shall be held in the office, building or residence of a candidate or publicly elected official.” The location at 1201 Sumner Ave., is the courthouse of District Judge Patricia Engler. Judge Engler was and still is a candidate on the ballot and is a publicly elected official. This location is Judge Engler’s highest supported.

My attorney, Sam Stretton, contacted the Lehigh County Board of Elections, who responded through Lehigh County Assistant Solicitor John Ashcraft. An agreement was reached between Lehigh County Board of Elections and me, that Judge Engler’s name would be covered on the courthouse only for the primary because I didn’t want to disenfranchise any voters.

The BOE was supposed to find a new location for the November election and all future elections. They didn't. They lied to shut me up with no intention of ever changing the location. The judge who is benefiting from this illegal location has done nothing to urge the election board to change the location either.

Now they are engaging in voter suppression in neighborhoods of color. Ward 8-7 is suburban and primarily Caucasian.

Voter suppression is serious. Election Code violations are serious. They are happening in Allentown tomorrow.

Can you please let your readers know.

In a subsequent email, Trotter tells me this.

I've attached some of my campaign cards as well as the agreement between myself and Board of Elections, and the letter I sent to solicitor Ashcraft last week. Neither Mr. Ashcraft for Benyo replied to my letter. Surprisingly enough, I went out this weekend to hand out cards for my write-in campaign. Tim Benyo sent me an letter about that this morning, informing me that I might be in violation of campaign finance law.

Funny how people who are violating the election code and committing voter suppression, are worried about the $150 bucks I spent out of pocket, on palm cards.


Anonymous said...

Gotta love Allentown!!!

Anonymous said...

At the bare minimum, when a polling location is changed, a sign should be placed at the former location with address and map of the new polling location. Furthermore, when the location is at a building is not easily found, directional signage should be posted from major intersection as appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Check the election calendar as it relates to pre ele tion campaign finance reports. Thought the last day for pre-election reports for local candidates was Oct 23. I believe this would include expenses up to Oct 19th.

Anonymous said...

You're right. If the expenditure for the hand card was incurred after October 19, 2015, she would not have been required to report it yet. Also if the total amount she spends is less than $250.00 she just needs to sign an affidavit that verifies that fact.

I'm surprised that the voter registration office acted so quickly, generally speaking they take forever to respond to supposed campaign finance complaints, if they respond at all.

Sure looks like the powers-that-be in Lehigh County have it in for Ms. Trotter.

I wish her the best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Stay strong!

- Alfonso Todd

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tim Benyo from the elections office called. I will be getting his side of the story and will post it later in the week. Ordinarily, I would have waited, but given the claim and the urgency, I thought I should post Trotter's concern.

Anonymous said...

Let's review. Reliable D voters in a lever-pulling D town where a soon to be indicted D received 72% of the last vote. And a D is whining about suppression and irregularities? Is this a post from The Onion? Is the complainer upset with Philadelphia precincts that had more than 100% turnout in 2012? Cry me a river.

Anonymous said...

Will be waiting to see if Ms.Trotter gets enough write-ins to win. If She does win will all Her accusations go away ?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of sour grapes and whaaaaaaa.

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like she's just expecting officials to play by the rules. Isn't that what we all want and expect? If dirty tricks are played in full view of everyone and we don't say anything, why do we bother to vote at all? Wanting a fair process for all isn't unreasonable. She hasn't asked for anything, she's just letting people know what's going on, which takes courage when you will be attacked and ridiculed by strangers hiding behind their computers.

Anonymous said...

If this was Lisa Scheller crying foul, all would be good. Get over yourselves. This is WRONG!
East Sider

Anonymous said...

disgusting political games ..Allentown shines once again. the city without limits and rules.

Anonymous said...

Lisa Scheller pulled herself up by her bootstraps.
She is a champion of the people.

Anonymous said...

Allentown is a shithole.

Anonymous said...

I'm black, therefore you whities are wrong