Some voters in Philadelphia were surprised today when they were confronted with a massive Barack Obama mural while waiting in line to vote.
Those whose polling station is the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School (Ward 35) were greeted with the gigantic mural this morning when they entered the building. One of the poll booths is directly adjacent to the mural, which includes the words “hope” and “change,” as well as a quote from Barack Obama.
After concerned Republicans took the matter to a common pleas court, seeking an emergency injunction, Judge John Milton Younge ordered the mural to be “cover[ed] in its entirety with blank paper or other similar matter, so that the mural is invisible in its entirety for the duration of the election on November 6, 2012.”
However, those that have taken photos of the image since the order have noted that it has not been completely covered. Instead, a few pieces of paper have been taped over Obama’s face, with the rest of the mural showing, including the Obama quote.
Some say that the painting violates Pennsylvania election laws, which states that “no person within a polling place may electioneer or solicit votes for any political party, political body, or candidate, nor may any unauthorized written or printed materials be posted within the polling place.”
“It is an absolute disgrace,” Shannon Royer, deputy secretary for external affairs and elections, told reporters. “Election materials and electioneering inside the polling place are prohibited by state law. This can be interpreted as trying to influence voters inside the polling place.”
School district spokesman Fernando Gallard advised that the mural was created in 2009 following a student vote.
While the mural has been a concern throughout the day, Judge Younge also issued an order this morning mandating that officials allow Republican site inspectors, of which there is an approximate 300, to guard against voter fraud at polling locations throughout the city. At first, a reported 75 inspectors had been turned away by officials. However, Younge’s order outlines that Philadelphia police are to accompany the inspectors to ensure that they are admitted and are able to do their job.
Additionally, a few Black Panther representatives have been spotted outside of polling locations today, albeit without clubs, such as occurred during the 2008 election. The Black Panthers are a black supremacist group that seeks to promote racial nationalism.