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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Man complains of Obama supporters working lines



RIVERVIEW -- Early morning lines provided a campaigning opportunity for some political supporters and Jerry Cugno didn't appreciate it one bit.

Cugno arrived at his Summerfield Crossing Community Center polling place shortly before it opened Tuesday to find a line he estimated to be an eighth of a mile long. What annoyed him was that two women were working the crowd on behalf of Barack Obama, asking people who they support and trying to sway those not on board.

One of the women was within 35 feet of the entrance to the precinct, easily in violation of a state rule prohibiting voter contact by campaigners and others within 100 feet polling site entrance. Cugno said he complained to poll workers, who he said refused to address the matter. When he finally got through to the Supervisor of Elections Office, he said he was hung up on by the person who answered the phone.

"I watched her work the line for over 40 minutes," Cugno said. "It was crazy."

A spokeswoman for Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson said she was not aware of anyone hanging up on people calling to complain. She said the office received a number of calls from people complaining about voter contact within the 100-foot buffer.

"If they call us, we call the clerk (of the polling site) and remind them of the 100-foot rule," said Mia McCormick, the spokeswoman. "And if there's still a problem, we call law enforcement."

-- Bill Varian and Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:39am]


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