Senate races

Delaware Dems claim GOP intimidation by O’Donnell backers, worry over turnout

Delaware’s state Democratic Party is claiming that supporters of Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell are creating problems at some polling locations in the state.

This, as the campaign of Democrat Chris Coons e-mails supporters expressing concerns over turnout levels in the Democratic bastion of New Castle County.

In an e-mail to supporters early Tuesday afternoon, Coons campaign manager Christy Gleason wrote that the campaign was observing “lower turnout in New Castle and Kent counties than we’re comfortable with.”     

New Castle County is the northernmost county in the state, as well as the region where Coons was banking on running up his vote total to offset highly energized Republicans in Kent and Sussex counties, less populous areas of the state.  

Meanwhile, the state’s commissioner of elections, Elaine Manlove, confirmed to The Ballot Box that after receiving several complaints from voters at polling stations Tuesday, she contacted the O’Donnell campaign and asked that it direct its supporters to tone down their efforts. 

She said O’Donnell backers were crowding the exterior of several polling places in anticipation of the candidate’s arrival, which briefly restricted access for some voters.    

“The campaign was basically sending out advance teams to polling places to form crowds before [O’Donnell] got there to greet voters,” said Manlove. “My issue with that is that at some places they were blocking the sidewalk and voters need to have access to polling places at all times.”

Manlove also said she has received several complaints that cheering O’Donnell supporters can be heard inside some voting locations. 

“Even if they’re standing outside that 50-foot line, if the noise can be heard within the polling place, it’s still a violation,” she said. “It’s the same as taking a bullhorn and yelling ‘vote for my candidate.’ ” 

Manlove said since she contacted the O’Donnell campaign, complaints to the state’s board of elections have dried up.    

The O’Donnell campaign was not immediately available for comment. 

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