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No crime in Butler County commissioners' poll visits, DA says

| Thursday, June 26, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

Two Butler County commissioners did not commit a crime by entering polling places during the May 20 primary election, the county district attorney said on Thursday.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, had asked District Attorney Richard Goldinger to review whether Commissioners Bill McCarrier and A. Dale Pinkerton broke the law when they visited two polling places within the 12th Legislative District. The two Republican commissioners don't live where the polling places are located, but Pinkerton told the Tribune-Review that he and McCarrier were allowed to visit them as officers of the Board of Elections.

Allegations of violations of the state Election Code should be directed to the county Board of Elections, Goldinger's Tuesday letter to Metcalfe stated. Because McCarrier and Pinkerton are members of the elections board, Metcalfe contended, Goldinger should look at the issue.

“My job is to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses,” Goldinger wrote. “I am not in the position to provide advisory opinions, interpret statutes or make law policy. I believe that is the role of a judge, and in this instance, the role of the judge of elections.”

State law does not adequately address whether members of the board of elections can be in polling places during the primary or general election, Goldinger said.

The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, said that “this was an ‘uncommon' situation and that this is something that could be used to challenge an election, depending on the specific circumstances of the situation,” he added.

Goldinger suggested that poll workers and others should receive more training so they know who can be inside a polling place, and that candidates and elected officials “should also be cognizant of what they can and can't do at a polling place during a primary or election.”

Metcalfe won the GOP nomination for his 12th District seat by just 566 votes, his smallest margin of victory since 2004. He faces Democrat Lisa Zucco in November.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621.

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