Pa. Polling Place Required Voters To Swear On Bible

On Election Day 2010, a Pennsylvania polling place required at least a few voters to put their hands on a Bible and swear to their identity.

Voter Lindsay Granger wrote on her blog on Election Day that the 15th Ward’s first division polls at Trinity Baptist Church in Fairmount, Pa., required that she place her palm on the Bible and state her name and address before she was permitted to sign the voting log or enter the voting booth.

“They called it an affirmation,” she wrote. “I call it creepy…and a little offensive. If anything, I should swear on a Constitution or something. Voting is a civil responsibility, not a religious one…and isn’t there supposed to be a separation of church and state?”

Bob Lee, the City Commission’s voter registration administrator, told Philly.com that Bibles have been included in polling-place supplies for years and are used to swear in polling-place workers before voting begins.

The Committee of Seventy, an election watchdog group, said it received three complaints about Bibles at polling places in the city, but none were from the 15th Ward’s first division.

City officials plan to update poll training to cover this issue.

“We will definitely instruct all of the poll officials at our classes before the May primary election,” Lee said.