Federal Lawsuit

Below is the unofficial text of our federal lawsuit to overturn the March 21 election.


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

 

LUCINDA LITTLE, CHERI HONKALA,  :  DOCKET NO.

THE GREEN PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIA,:

REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE OF    :

PHILADELPHIA and REPUBLICAN     :

STATE COMMITTEE,                :

                     PLAINTIFFS  :

                                 :

              V.                :

                                 :

EMILIO VAZQUEZ, COMMISSIONER    :

ANTHONY CLARK, COMMISSIONER     :

AL SCHMIDT, COMMISSIONER LISA M.:

DEELEY, PEDRO CORTES, SECRETARY :

OF THE COMMONWEALTH, DEPARTMENT :

OF STATE, BUREAU OF COMMISSIONS,:

ELECTIONS AND LEGISLATION and   :

PHILADELPHIA CITY DEMOCRATIC    :

COMMITTEE,                 :

                     DEFENDANTS  :

ORDER

 

     AND NOW, this        day of                   , 2017, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED as follows:

     The March 21, 2017 special election for the Office of State Legislature in the 197th Legislative District in Lower Northeast Philadelphia is hereby declared null and void.

 

                               BY THE COURT:

 

                               __________________________________

                                                                J.

  

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

 

LUCINDA LITTLE, CHERI HONKALA,  :  DOCKET NO.

THE GREEN PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIA,:

REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE OF    :

PHILADELPHIA and REPUBLICAN     :

STATE COMMITTEE,                :

                     PLAINTIFFS  :

                                 :

              V.                :

                                 :

EMILIO VAZQUEZ, COMMISSIONER    :

ANTHONY CLARK, COMMISSIONER     :

AL SCHMIDT, COMMISSIONER LISA M.:

DEELEY, PEDRO CORTES, SECRETARY :

OF THE COMMONWEALTH, DEPARTMENT :

OF STATE, BUREAU OF COMMISSIONS,:

ELECTIONS AND LEGISLATION and   :

PHILADELPHIA CITY DEMOCRATIC    :

COMMITTEE,                 :

                     DEFENDANTS  :

 

ORDER

 

     AND NOW, this        day of                   , 2017, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED as follows:

     A preliminary injunction is granted as follows:

          a.)  The election for the 197th Legislative District in Lower Northeast Philadelphia where Emilio Vazquez was   elected is declared null and void and is preliminarily   enjoined;

          b.)  A new special election is ordered to take place    ninety days hence; 

          c.)  The Defendants are Ordered to pay all reasonable   costs and counsel fees;

          d.)  Appropriate sanctions are Ordered against the      following in the following amounts:

  

                               BY THE COURT:

 

                               __________________________________

                                                                J.


 

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

 

LUCINDA LITTLE, CHERI HONKALA,  :  DOCKET NO.

THE GREEN PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIA,:

REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE OF    :

PHILADELPHIA and REPUBLICAN     :

STATE COMMITTEE,                :

                     PLAINTIFFS  :

                                 :

              V.                :

                                 :

EMILIO VAZQUEZ, COMMISSIONER    :

ANTHONY CLARK, COMMISSIONER     :

AL SCHMIDT, COMMISSIONER LISA M.:

DEELEY, PEDRO CORTES, SECRETARY :

OF THE COMMONWEALTH, DEPARTMENT :

OF STATE, BUREAU OF COMMISSIONS,:

ELECTIONS AND LEGISLATION and   :

PHILADELPHIA CITY DEMOCRATIC    :

COMMITTEE,                 :

                     DEFENDANTS  :

 

ORDER

 

     AND NOW, this        day of                   , 2017, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED as follows:

     A preliminary injunction is granted as follows:

          a.)  The election for the 197th Legislative District in Lower Northeast Philadelphia where Emilio Vazquez was   elected is declared null and void and is permanently     enjoined;

          b.)  A new special election is ordered to take place    ninety days hence; 

          c.)  The Defendants are Ordered to pay all reasonable   costs and counsel fees;

          d.)  Appropriate sanctions are Ordered against the      following in the following amounts:

 

                               BY THE COURT:

 

                               __________________________________

                                                               J.


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

 

LUCINDA LITTLE                  :  DOCKET NO.

339 E. Louden Street            :

Philadelphia, PA  19120         :

     and                        :

CHERI HONKALA                   :

2114 N. Hancock Street          :

Philadelphia, PA  19122         :

     and                         :

THE GREEN PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIA :

A MINOR POLITICAL PARTY         :

P.O. Box 59524                  :

Philadelphia, PA  19102         :

     and                         :

REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE OF    :

PHILADELPHIA                    :

3325 Cottman Avenue             :

Philadelphia, PA  19149         :

     and                         :

REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE      :

112 State Street                 :

Harrisburg, PA  17101,           :

                     PLAINTIFFS  :

                                 :

               V.               :

                                :

EMILIO VAZQUEZ                  :

3643 N. Percy Street             :

Philadelphia, PA  19140         :

     and                        :

COMMISSIONER ANTHONY CLARK      :

PHILADLEPHIA CITY COMMISSIONERS :

OFFICE                           :

CITY HALL, ROOM 130              :

PHILADELPHIA, PA  19107         :

     and                         :

COMMISSIONER AL SCHMIDT         :

PHILADLEPHIA CITY COMMISSIONERS :

OFFICE                           :

CITY HALL, ROOM 134              :

PHILADELPHIA, PA  19107         :

     and                         :

 

 

 

COMMISSIONER LISA M. DEELEY     :

PHILADLEPHIA CITY COMMISSIONERS :

OFFICE                           :

CITY HALL, ROOM 132              :

PHILADELPHIA, PA  19107         :

     and                         :

PEDRO CORTES                    :

SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH   :

OF PENNSYLVANIA                 :

Office of the Secretary         :

302 N. Office Building          :

Harrisburg, PA  17120           :

     and                         :

DEPARTMENT OF STATE             :

BUREAU OF COMMISSIONS, ELECTIONS:

AND LEGISLATION             :

210 NORTH OFFICE BUILDING       :

HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA 17120  :

     and                         :

PHILADELPHIA CITY DEMOCRATIC     :

COMMITTEE                       :

219 Spring Garden Street         :

Philadelphia, PA  19123,        :

               DEFENDANTS       :

 

COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

 

     The Plaintiffs, Lucinda Little, Cheri Honkala, The Green Party of Pennsylvania, A Minor Political Party, Republican City Committee of Philadelphia and Republican State Committee, by and through their counsel, Samuel C. Stretton, Esquire and Linda A. Kerns, Esquire and Joel Frank, Esquire, hereby seek declaratory and injunctive relief to enjoin the special election held on March 21, 2017 in the 197th Legislative District in Lower Northeast Philadelphia and find it to be void, and to enjoin the results of that special election and to enjoin the putative winning candidate, Emilio Vazquez, from holding the Office of State Representative for the following reasons:

A.)  Parties

     1.   The Plaintiff, Lucinda Little, is a citizen and resident of the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with an address of 339 E. Louden Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19120.  At all pertinent times, she was a registered Republican voter and the Republican candidate for the special election on March 21, 2017 in the 197th Legislative District.  The Plaintiff is also suing in her capacity as a registered voter in addition to her capacity as a candidate.

     2.   The Plaintiff, Cheri Honkala, is a citizen and resident of the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with an address of 2114 N. Hancock Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  At all pertinent times, she was a registered voter and registered member of the Pennsylvania Green Party and was a write-in candidate for the special election on March 21, 2017 in the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Plaintiff is also suing in her capacity as a registered voter in addition to her capacity as a candidate.

     3.   The Plaintiff, The Green Party of Pennsylvania, is a qualified minor political party in Pennsylvania with an address of P.O. Box 59524 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and nominated their registered Green Party Member, Cheri Honkala, as their write-in candidate for the special election for the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 21, 2017.  The Pennsylvania Green Party is also suing in their capacity as a minor political party.

     4.   The Plaintiff, Republican City Committee of Philadelphia, is a major political party in Philadelphia County with address of 3525 Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19149.  The Republican City Committee duly nominated a candidate, Lucinda Little, who was on the ballot in the special election for the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Republican City Committee is also suing in their capacity as a major political party.

     5.   The Plaintiff, Republican State Committee, is a major political party in Pennsylvania with an address of 112 State Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101.  The Republican State Committee duly nominated a candidate, Lucinda Little, who was on the ballot in the special election for the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Republican State Committee is also suing in their capacity as a major political party. 

     6.   The Defendant, Emilio Vazquez, is a citizen and resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with an alleged address of 3643 North Percy Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140.  Vazquez failed to qualify for the ballot and mounted a write-in campaign for the Democratic Party in the special election for the 197th Legislative District on March 21, 2017.  Vazquez was subsequently by Philadelphia City Commissioners named as the winner of the special election.

     7.   The Defendant, Philadelphia Commissioner Anthony Clark, is the Chairman of the Philadelphia City Commissioners with address of City Hall, Room 130 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.  He has the responsibility for running elections that comply with the Pennsylvania Election Code to ensure that the elections are run fairly and that there is no tampering of votes or any other matters.

     8.   The Defendant, Philadelphia Commissioner Al Schmidt, is the elected City Commissioner with an address of City Hall, Room 134 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.  He has the responsibility for running elections that comply with the Pennsylvania Election Code to ensure that the elections are run fairly and that there is no tampering of votes or any other matters.

     9.   The Defendant, Philadelphia Commissioner Lisa M. Deeley, is the elected City Commissioner with an address of City Hall, Room 132 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.  She has the responsibility for running elections that comply with the Pennsylvania Election Code to ensure that the elections are run fairly and that there is no tampering of votes or any other matters.

     10.  The Defendant, Pedro Cortes, is the duly appointed Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with an address of Office of the Secretary, 302 North Office Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120.  He has the responsibility of ensuring the fairness of all elections in Pennsylvania, including the special election in the 197th Legislative District held on March 21, 2017, and ensuring that all Pennsylvania Counties comply with the Pennsylvania Election Code.

     11.  The Defendant, Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, is a duly organized governmental entity with the responsibilities for all state-wide elections and to ensure their fairness and ensure their compliance with the Election Code, with an address of 210 North Office Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120.

     12.  The Defendant, Philadelphia City Democratic Committee,

is a major political party in Philadelphia County with an address of 219 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123, and whose members, ward leaders, officers, volunteers and committee people were involved in the March 21, 2017 special election.

     13.  At all pertinent times, all Defendants acted either individually or in their official capacity.

     14.  At all pertinent times, all Defendants acted either by themselves or through their agents and/or employees in the course and scope of their employment.

     15.  At all pertinent times, all Defendants were acting under color of state law.

B.)  Jurisdiction

     16.  The jurisdiction of this Court is found in 28 U.S.C.A. 1331, giving Federal District Courts original jurisdiction in all civil actions arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States.  Further, jurisdiction is found because the Defendants are alleged to have violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, and due process through the Fourteenth Amendment.  This is pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. 1983.  Jurisdiction is also found since there are violations of the Federal Voting Rights Act. 

C.)  Pertinent Facts

     17.  In Pennsylvania, a special election was ordered by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a Defendant, to be held on March 21, 2017 for the open seat for the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The seat became open when the previous elected State Representative was not seated by the General Assembly due to a previously undisclosed felony conviction.

     18.  The Defendants, Philadelphia City Commissioners, the Defendant, Pedro Cortes, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and the Defendant, Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, all had the express duties and responsibilities pursuant to Pennsylvania laws and statutes and the Pennsylvania Election Code, to administer a special election according to the Pennsylvania Election Code and to ensure there was no tampering of votes or with voters. 

     19.  The Defendant, Emilio Vazquez, was the write-in candidate purportedly specifically sponsored by and supported by the Philadelphia City Democratic Committee as that organization’s endorsed candidate in the special election for the 197th Legislative District in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The City Democratic Committee was the predominate political force in Philadelphia and is responsible for fielding and electing Democratic candidates. 

     20.  The Philadelphia City Democratic Committee, at all pertinent times, was organized and registered pursuant to the Election Code and laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is a major political committee, and must act pursuant to the laws and regulations of the Philadelphia Election Code in running and supporting candidates for election.

     21.  A special election was held on March 21, 2017.  Lucinda Little was the Republican candidate duly nominated to the ballot.  No other candidates were duly nominated but many individuals campaigned for write-in votes.  These candidates included the Plaintiff, Cheri Honkala, who was running as the Green Party write-in candidate, and various Democratic voters who were running their own write-in campaigns (believed to be Edward Lloyd, David Torres, Orlando Acosta and Juan Rodriguez, in addition to the so-called “endorsed candidate,” Emilio Vazquez).

     22.  The Green Party of Pennsylvania, at all pertinent times, supported Cheri Honkala in her write-in campaign.  The Green Party is a minor political party registered and required to comply with the Rules of the Pennsylvania Election Code.

     23.  There was an official count of votes that began on Friday, March 24, 2017.  The count was certified as of Friday, March 31, 2017 with the Defendant, Emilio Vazquez, as the winner.  Candidate Lucinda Little received 201 votes and the various “write-in” candidates, in the aggregate, received 2,493 votes.   

     24.  During the election, there were numerous discrepancies and violations of the Election Law committed by the Election Board workers employed by the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia City Democratic City Committee, its members, Ward leaders, volunteers, committee people and supporters, and by the candidate, Emilio Vazquez, and his workers and supporters.  Further, the Defendants City Commissions and the Defendant Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation failed to properly supervise the special election to ensure a fair and just election.  Some of the acts of misconduct include:

          a.)  The Election Board workers, virtually all of whom were registered Democrat electors, in the various polling places were telling voters how to vote and who to vote for, i.e., the Defendant, Emilio Vazquez.  This is improper and in violation of the Pennsylvania Election Code where the Election Board is not supposed to in any way advocate for a candidate by electioneering inside the polling place or otherwise.

          b.)  The Democratic Election Board workers allowed and encouraged Democratic workers and supporters of Emilio Vazquez in the polling area to hand out literature and to go into the voting booth and help and/or coerce voters to vote for Mr. Vazquez, specifically violating the Pennsylvania Election Code.

          c.)  The voters for the special election were told by Election Board workers and representatives of the Democratic City Committee and the Democratic candidate that they were only allowed to vote for the write-in, Emilio Vazquez, and no other candidates.

          d.)  Voters were threatened or intimidated if it was thought they were going to vote for any other candidate.  These Election Code violations were committed by Election Board workers in the polling place and by the Democratic Committee people and workers on behalf of Mr. Vazquez at each polling place.

          e.)  Plaintiffs believe and aver that the proper chain of custody procedures regarding voting cartridges and election materials were not followed during the special election.  Plaintiffs believe that individuals other than the Philadelphia Police Department picked up and delivered cartridges and election materials. 

          f.)  Plaintiffs believe and aver that various persons had custody of election materials on the evening of the election and spent time at Vazquez’s or other’s parties rather than delivering said materials directly to the City Commissioners.                 g.)  The Democratic Philadelphia Commissioners and the Defendant Cortes and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, failed to properly supervise this election.

          h.)  All misconduct alleged in this complaint was in violation of the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, including the right of association of speech and the right to vote, and further, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and further, in violation of the Election Code.  All of this misconduct denied the voters a right to free and fair election pursuant to the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, as noted above, and also pursuant to the Pennsylvania Election Code.  As a result, the election was tainted and should be voided.

     25.  Other acts of misconduct by the Defendants are as follows:

          a.)  The Plaintiffs have a video of money exchanged between the son of the Democratic Ward Leader and other Democratic officials outside the voting place.  The exchange of money was illegal and tainted the election.

          b.)  Plaintiffs plan to offer a video of an elderly Latino woman who was intimidated and told she had to vote for Emilio Vazquez by the Democratic party workers.

          c.)  The pink ballot sheets prepared by the City Commissioners and paid for by Philadelphia taxpayers, that were posted in polling places to illustrate the ballot in a non-partisan way to voters were doctored by Mr. Vazquez and workers of the City Democratic Committee to specifically instruct voters to write in Mr. Vazquez’s name.  This illegal tampering gave the impression that the City of Philadelphia specifically instructed voters to voter for Mr. Vazquez. 

          d.)  Plaintiffs believe and aver that voting machines and the “write-in” mechanism frequently malfunctioned in various polling places and the proper procedures for alternative ballots were not followed. 

          e.)  Throughout the day, and in virtually all polling places, the proper procedures for voting assistance under the Pennsylvania Election Code were not followed and multiple people, sometimes as many as four (4) crowded into the voting booth with voters.

     26.  There are also the following acts of misconduct by the Defendants:

          a.)  Plaintiffs believe and aver that Defendants deliberately disseminated misleading literature implying that Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala, who has lived in the District for years, is an “outsider” and a “Republican”.

          b.)  At a Beauty School, 2751 Germantown Avenue, Honkala poll workers were told they could not put up Honkala signs because this is a “Democratic district.”

          c.)  At multiple polling places, Democratic poll workers and committee people illegally positioned themselves inside the polling place, handing out the Vazquez stamp and literature; well within the 10 feet buffer zone from the entrance to the polling location as required by law.

          d.)  At the Wyoming Branch Library, Democrats had set up a table outside the polling place, with sign-in sheets and stickers, giving voters the impression that this party-run table is the place to check in to vote, rather than the actual check-in station inside the polling place.

          e.)  At the Pan American Clinic, a Democratic Committeeman handed out partisan materials inside the doorway to the polling place, not 10 feet from the entrance as required by law.  When questioned by a Honkala supporter, he responded that he’s an “elected” person (either a judge of election or committeeperson).  If a judge of election, he should have been inside but running the election in a non-partisan manner, not distributing literature.  If he was fulfilling a partisan role, he needed to be outside the polling place. This location is also owned by Freddie Ramirez, a previously nominated Democratic candidate who was removed from the ballot by order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania for failing to reside in the district, as required by law. 

          f.)  At the Esperanza Health Center, a Honkala voter was point blank asked by the election workers who she was voting for. 

          g.)  At multiple polling places, Democratic representatives were repeatedly going in and out of the polling place, even though they had no poll watcher credentials.  In one instance, Democratic Ward Leader Carlos Matos was seen going in and handling the voting machines.

          h.)  At Bethune School, an election worker was seen inside the polling place with the write-in stamp of another candidate, likely that of Emilio Vazquez, the main Democratic write-in candidate. 

          i.)  At Munoz Marin School, a table was set up right next to the voting machine, covered with literature for Democratic candidate Emilio Vazquez, with voters being told that the table has “what they need to vote.”       

          j.)  At the polling place at 17th and Lehigh, located in an unspecified office, the Democratic Committee people told people to vote for Democrat Emilio Vazquez inside the polling place as they checked in to vote.   

           k.)  There was campaign literature at the election table where the Judge of Election was supposed to sit at many of the polling places.  This was particularly true in Ward 19, Section 11.

     27. The following additional acts occurred.

          a.)  At the Barton School, a voter who walked into the polling place with Cheri Honkala’s stamp was told by the election workers that she “had the wrong stamp.”  The Honkala stamp was taken away and the voter was given a stamp for Emilio Vazquez. 

          b.)  At West Kensington Ministry, an election worker was captured on video coming out of the polling site and taking money from a Democratic poll worker.

          c.)  At the entrance of William H. Hunter School, Democrats were allegedly heard saying, “This is where the Emilio voters vote.”  They allegedly would not let a voter intending to write in Honkala’s name from entering the polling place.

          d.)  Honkala campaign treasurer Hillary Kane called the District Attorney’s office several times to complain and she got the following response each time: “We’ll send someone out there as soon as we can.”

          e.)  Another voter at Hunter allegedly was harassed trying to enter the polling place.  When she came out, she said that even though she had voted in this division her whole life, her name was “not on the voter rolls” and therefore she couldn’t vote.  She reported she was not offered a provisional ballot. 

          f.)  At Rivera Head Start, every time someone went to vote, they were told that they needed “assistance” and it was provided by the same Democratic poll worker.

          g.)  At the PGW polling place, election workers were reportedly confiscating stamps from people who intended to vote for Honkala and allegedly told people they can’t bring stamps into the voting booth.  At Ward 43-22, voters were prevented from voting.  

          h.)  At Pan American Center, a woman reportedly came out and told Honkala supporters that election workers told her that the only write-in option was Vazquez.

          i.)  An elderly Latina woman reported on video that she was afraid for her safety and that she and other senior citizens were intimidated into voting for Vazquez.

          j.)  Munos Marin voters said election judges allegedly had Vazquez stamps on hand and they were distributing them.  The Honkala campaign confirmed with the Sheriff’s Office that this was a problem earlier in the day. 

          k.)  At El Shaddai Church in Ward 43-01, early in the morning, a Democratic election worker told a Honkala campaign poll volunteer that she was there to “assist voters” and to give her the Honkala stamp to give to Honkala voters.  The Honkala Party volunteer unknowingly did this.  She later realized this was an incorrect thing to do and that the election worker had allegedly pocketed the stamp and wasn’t helping anyone use it.  Also, a Honkala poll volunteer gave a stamp to a voter, who upon coming out reported intimidation inside (the voter reportedly was given misinformation and the election workers allegedly tried to give her a Vazquez stamp.  At that point, she said she didn’t want to vote anymore).

          l.)  At Bethune School and Hunter School, judges of elections allegedly held and distributed Vazquez stamps.

          m.)  At Ward 43-24, at the Champion Learning Center, 3900 N. Broad, a Honkala volunteer reportedly witnessed the Judge of Elections giving voters a piece of paper with Vazquez’s name on it, so they could spell it correctly. 

          n.)  At Ward 19-4, a Judge of Elections was allegedly heard explaining to a voter who wanted to do a write-in, who explicitly said he didn’t want to vote for a Republican or a Democrat – that because they were registered as a Democrat, they “had to vote for the Democrat.”  After questioning this, the voter was then told that they could vote using a provisional ballot.

          o.)  At Rivera Head Start, a person associated with the Election Board allegedly came out of the polling place, got the stamp from the committee person and brought it in for the voters inside.  This continued throughout the voting period.

          p.)  A poll worker reported that at Hunter School, at 2:40 p.m., a Hispanic woman became interested in voting for Cheri Honkala upon speaking with her and learning how to do the write-in vote.  However, once the voter got to the door of the polling place, the Vazquez team allegedly began talking to her at the door, blocking her entrance and bullying her.  Then another woman came out who was reportedly the Judge of Election and confiscated literature and a Honkala stamp out of the voter’s hands and gave it to Walter Tsou, another Honkala volunteer, who is also a former City Health Commissioner.  She told the Honkala team that we “can’t do this.”  The Judge of Elections who is supposed to stay inside, walked almost 60 feet out of the polling site’s entrance to take away Honkala literature and stamps.  The voter reportedly left the site upset, without having voted.  The campaign called the District Attorney to complain.

          q.)  Another similar situation occurred in front of the police.  Another resident wanted to vote for Honkala, but an African-American woman in her 50’s (who may have been City Commissioner staff) allegedly physically took the literature and stamp out of the voter’s hands and told her she wasn’t allowed to have that.  Two representatives from the District Attorney’s Office and three police officers witnessed this.

          r.)  The same poll worker at Hunter School also found a volunteer outside the polling place with Emilio Vazquez’s literature saying “Vote for Emilio” and telling voters that if they were Democrats, they couldn’t have voted for Cheri Honkala since she’s note a Democrat.

          s.)  In Ward 19-19 at the fire house, the Sheriff’s Office confiscated literature even though it had a handwritten disclaimer as to who paid for the literature.  The Sheriff also took the Green Party bag, which included other election items and never returned the materials even after the Sheriff’s Office was ordered to return material that was actually permissible under the law (i.e., handwritten). 

          t.)  Inside the polling place located at the Hartranft School, Mr. Vazquez was sitting and talking with the Election Board even though he was a candidate.

          u.)  At the end of the night, election workers were seen pulling the register tapes.  The election workers signed after the tape was pulled and signed in the middle of the tape (in the vote box where write-ins were happening) (42-3, 7, 9).

          v.)  In Ward 19, Congreso Center at American Street, there were about a dozen Vasquez workers who set up at a table (effectively covering everyone else’s campaign posters), looking like some kind of official check-in.  The local ward leader then brought voters in with his arms around them, shooing off anyone else from trying to distribute literature or talk to the voters, and pointing to the Vazquez literature insisting that Cheri Honkala was a “Republican and outsider.”  The Democratic ward leader then went into the polling place carrying the literature, although others were working inside. 

          w.)  In Ward 19 at the McKinley School at Orkney and Diamond – Early on March 21, 2017, around 9:00 a.m., a voter came up to McKinley School.  She said she would like to vote for Cheri Honkala.  She was given the stamp and stamp pad and showed her how to cast a write-in vote.  She went inside.  When she came out, she stated election workers had asked her if she had ever cast a write-in vote before.  She told them she had not.  An election worker then went inside the polling booth with her.  The election worker stayed in the booth with her the whole time.  the election worker pushed the write-in/red button and when it came time to stamp, the election worker handed her an Emilio Vazquez stamp and told her “this is the one you should use.”  The election worker then closed the shutter.   

     28.  All of the above actions and many others destroyed the fairness of the March 21, 2017 special election.  All of the Defendants, particularly the Defendants City Commissioners, and the Defendants, Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, and the Defendant, Pedro Cortes, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, failed to ensure that the election was being held fairly and in compliance with the Pennsylvania Election Code, and that votes are not being tampered with.  All either directly allowed or failed to properly supervise the election, allowing fundamental violations of due process and fundamental violations of the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and fundamental violations of the Pennsylvania Election Code.  Further, the Defendant Vazquez and Defendant City Commissioners all worked together to intimidate voters, tamper with votes and prevent a fair election.

     29.  The Pennsylvania Election Code specifies individuals permitted inside polling places and prohibits electioneering of any kind within the sanctity of the polling place. 

     30.  There was no protection and chain of custody for the machines and the tapes, and there was no certainty as to the accuracy of those machines and tapes and what was reported and what was not.

     31.  All of the misconduct resulted from the lack of supervision by the Defendants, City Commissioners and the Defendants, Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation.

     32.  All of the misconduct resulted from the lack of supervision by the Defendants, City Commissioners and the Defendants, Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, and the Defendant, Pedro Cortes, and further, resulted from the misconduct of the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee and Mr. Vazquez and their respective workers and employees during the special election day.

     33.  The Democratic City Committee and Mr. Vazquez and their representatives were fully trained and fully aware of the Pennsylvania Election Code.  They, at all pertinent times, had access to election lawyers who represented them and who were available.  Despite that, there were multiple and numerous acts of violation, which tainted and affected this election to the point that there is no certainty as to the accuracy of the election.

     34.  All Defendants acted under color of state law and all violated the Pennsylvania Election Code and the aforementioned constitutional provisions. 

Count I – Declaratory Relief

     35.  Paragraphs 1 through 34 are incorporated by reference.

     36.  The Defendants, due to lack of supervision and/or through the alleged misconduct, violated the Pennsylvania Election Code as noted above and, as a result, corrupted and undermined the election results and undermined the right of voters to vote for a candidate of their choice and for candidates to run and be voted for by persons.

     37.  The Plaintiffs are requesting declaratory relief that the acts of the Defendants violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution in terms of right of association, right to vote and right to speech, and further, fundamental due process affecting the election pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution through Federal Statute 42 U.S.C.S.A. 1983.

     WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs are respectfully requesting this Honorable Court Order declaratory relief and Order that the special election held on March 21, 2017 was in violation of the Election Code and 42 U.S.C.A. 1983 due to First and Fourteenth Amendment violations and should be null and void and results not accounted.

Count II – Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief

     38.  Paragraphs 1 through 37 are incorporated by reference.

     39.  The Plaintiffs respectfully contend that the special election held on March 21, 2017 was in violation of the Pennsylvania Election Code and in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, as noted above and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment through 42 U.S.C.A. 1983.

     40.  The Plaintiffs contend there were numerous election violations and tampering with votes, which resulted in election results that were not accurate or fairly counted and the election should be declared null and void.

     41.  The Plaintiffs are seeking preliminary and permanent injunction of the election results and a new election to be held.

     42.  The Plaintiffs contend there was irreparable harm because of the violations of the Election Code and their First Amendment rights and the uncertainty of the election results.

     43.  The Plaintiffs contend they have no other remedy available at law.

     44.  The Plaintiffs respectfully request this Honorable Court preliminarily and permanently enjoin the election results and order a new special election.

     WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs, , Lucinda Little, Cheri Honkala and The Green Party of Pennsylvania, A Minor Political Party, Republican City Committee of Philadelphia and Republican State Committee, by and through their counsel, Samuel C. Stretton, Esquire and Linda A. Kerns, Esquire and Joel Frank, Esquire, respectfully request this Honorable Court Order the following preliminary and permanent relief:

          a.)  Enjoin the special election held on March 21, 2017 preliminarily and permanently.

          b.)  Order a new election to be held.

          c.)  Order sanctions as relevant.

          d.)  Award counsel fees and costs.

                          Respectfully submitted,

 

 

                          _________________________________

                          Samuel C. Stretton, Esquire

                          Attorney for Plaintiffs, Cheri

                           Honkala and the Green Party of

                           Pennsylvania

                          301 South High Street

                          P.O. Box 3231

                          West Chester, PA  19381-3231

                          (610) 696-4243

                          Attorney I.D. No. 18491

 

                          ___________________________________

                          Linda A. Kerns, Esquire

                          Attorney for Plaintiffs,

                           Republican City Committee of

                           Philadelphia and Lucinda Little,

                           duly nominated candidate and

                          Registered elector

                          1420 Locust Street, Suite 200

                          Philadelphia, PA  19102

                          (215) 731-1400

                          Attorney I.D. No. 84495

                          

                          ______________________________________

                          Joel L. Frank, Esquire

                          Attorney for Plaintiff, Republican

                           State Committee

                         Lamb McErlane, PC

                          P.O. Box 565

                          West Chester, PA  19381-0565

                          (610) 430-8000

                          Attorney I.D. No. 46601