Doyle maintains he didn’t break rule on poll politicking
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle acknowledged Wednesday that he greeted a friend working inside a polling station, but said he violated no election rules.
Doyle said he understands how someone might have misinterpreted what happened at Turner Elementary School in Wilkinsburg, one of a number of polling places the Forest Hills congressman visited after voting at a church in his hometown.
Poll watchers for Doyle’s opponent, Republican Melissa Haluszczak, claimed the Democrat began glad-handing people inside Turner school — from election board members to voters. But Doyle, who handily defeated Haluszczak 69 percent to 28 percent, denied the accusation. Haluszczak could not be reached for comment.
Doyle said he saw someone he knew on the election board and greeted the person.
“I was just saying hi to a friend and left,” he said.
State law forbids politicking — by candidates or their representatives — within 10 feet of a polling place, said Allegheny County Solicitor Michael Wojcik.
Erica Poole and Erik Graybill, both of Wilkinsburg, worked as poll watchers for Haluszczak and said Doyle walked into the school gymnasium where people were voting.
“He was not just waving at a friend,” said Graybill, 33.
Graybill said he went inside and confronted Doyle, who he claimed became indignant about the accusation.
“He needs to follow the rules, just like everyone else,” Graybill said.
Doyle said he did not violate any rule.
Lawyers for the Republican Committee of Allegheny County contacted county Election Court and Wojcik on Tuesday. Deputy solicitors contacted the election judge at Turner.
“By the time we investigated, there was nothing going on,” Wojcik said. “(Doyle) was gone.”
No one filed a formal complaint, said Wojcik, who described the accusation as “run of the mill” and considers the issue to be over.
Doyle said he and his wife visited 20 to 30 precincts after voting at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church.
“I was just going around to polling places,” Doyle said.
Haluszczak did the same, Poole said, but was careful to stay outside. Poole insisted that Doyle was not as cautious.
“It’s not going to change the election outcome,” she said. “But he went inside and left only because he was asked to leave by another poll worker. He’s not the ruling elite, and we’re not the mere mortals.”
Election Day 2010
Election day scenes from polling places around the Pittsburgh area, Tuesday, November 2, 2010.