Campaign's Distribution of Fingernail Files Sparks Warning by Sheriff's Deputies
Allegheny County Elections Court received a complaint Tuesday regarding the distribution of fingernail files in Ross by Ross resident and Democrat Mark Purcell, who is running for the House District 20 seat.
Allegheny County Elections Court issued an order earlier today giving law enforcement the authority to confiscate emery boards being handed out by a campaign near the Seville Fire Station in Ross Township.
The emery boards, which are used to file nails, say "Vote for Mark Purcell," on them and were being distributed Tuesday by the campaign workers for Ross resident and Democrat Mark Purcell, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Adam Ravenstahl for the Pennsylvania House District 20 seat.
They cost $0.02 each, Purcell said.
State law prohibits the distribution of items of value near or inside polling locations on election day. The rules are intended to keep candidates from buying votes.
Purcell said he was aware of only one complaint with the distribution of the emery boards, at a polling location in Lawrenceville. He said he didn't know of any complaints in Ross Township.
Barbara Averell, the judge of elections for Ward 6, District 4, said she called the county with the complaint after a voter brought the issue to her attention.
She said Purcell's wife was handing the emery boards out to voters Tuesday morning near the station. A constable asked her to stop, but she only moved a little farther away, Averell said.
"We figured that as soon as we weren't looking she would start handing them out again," Averell said.
The order warns that no one is to hand out any campaign gifts of value near Ward 6, District 4 (the fire station) inside or outside the polling locations. It gives the Allegheny County Sheriff permission to confiscate the emery boards if there is a violation, said William Stockey, a solicitor sheriff at the election court.
It was issued at 10:21 a.m.
Purcell's wife left before the court order arrived, Averell said, and no items were confiscated.
Averell said she knew of the rule about distributing items of value because "many, many years ago," the polling location had a problem with tablets that were being handed out with the candidate's name on it. She was the elections judge then as well.
The candidate handing out the tablets then was Purcell, she said. He was running at the time for Ross Township Commissioner.
"He hasn't learned," she said.
Did you receive a fingernail file from the Purcell or any other campaign? Did you see them being distributed? Please email editor AmyJo Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us in the comments!
Stay tuned to Patch today for more on this developing story and other election updates.