Gov. Ed Rendell (search) plans to put hand-picked state officials at county election offices during the Nov. 2 presidential election to watch for any problems in this battleground state.
Rendell, a Democrat, has said he wants Pennsylvania to avoid the type of voting debacle that happened in Florida, the scene of the bitter 2000 presidential recount.
"The role of these individuals is to determine potential problems and offer assistance to the counties to resolve them," Rendell said in an Oct. 6 internal memo obtained by The Morning Call of Allentown. "For your information, it is the opinion of the Office of General Counsel that this project does not constitute political activity."
But some Republicans are suspicious.
"Look, if you put 150 hand-picked Democrat appointees out in our county election bureaus, doing who knows what, it surely will raise our skepticism," said Drew Crompton, an aide to Republican state Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer.
At a briefing Wednesday for about 100 people who signed up to be deployed, officials said state managers might be violating federal law if they participate and their jobs involve administering federal funds routed through the state.
Kenneth A. Rapp, deputy secretary for regulatory programs for the Department of State, would not say exactly what the workers would do.
"Let's save that for training day" next week, he said. "This hasn't ever been done before. We'll be the first to admit it."