Federal court tosses Pa. paper’s poll-access lawsuit

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

PITTSBURGH — A federal judge has dismissed a western Pennsylvania newspaper’s lawsuit seeking access to Allegheny County polling places for reporters, photographers and video camera operators to monitor the sign-in process.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer agreed with state officials that the rules on access to polling places did not infringe on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s right to gather news.

She said in a 58-page opinion that no “federal court oversight” of how election officials are discharging their duties was required.

The newspaper said a state law keeping anyone other than voters and election officials 10 feet from polling places prevented it from monitoring the sign-in process.

But the judge said the law “‘does not target or single out’ newspaper reporters for disfavored treatment” and therefore doesn’t infringe on First Amendment rights.

Also see: Right-to-know coalition opposes Pa. poll-access limits

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