Hearing set Monday on polling place access

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A federal judge will hold a hearing Monday on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's lawsuit seeking access for reporters to polling places.

A closed-door conference in the chambers of U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer on Friday failed to yield a final settlement of the case, filed in July.

On Thursday, the Post-Gazette and the Allegheny County Board of Elections proposed a settlement that would allow media members to enter polling places "to observe members of the electorate as the voter signs in to vote at the polling place" but bar them from recording or interfering with the casting of ballots. An attorney for the other defendant, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, would not say today whether the state opposes the proposed pact.

The Post-Gazette sued the county board and Ms. Aichele in July, saying a statute barring anyone other than voters and elections officials from coming within 10 feet of polling places was unconstitutional as enforced. The newspaper sued in part because this election is the first in which voters will have to show photo identification, a controversial requirement that critics say could disenfranchise some people.

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