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Altercation with blind man leaves poll worker bruised, bloodied

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Election Day
Altercation with blind man leaves poll worker bruised, bloodied

The Ellis County Press

  PALMER - The presiding election judge at Fundamental Baptist Church on Election Day was left bruised and bloodied by a blind man who was “off his medications,” opening a span of criticism on the Palmer Police Department for not responding to the event.

           Patti Choate, the election judge, told Ellis County Elections Administrator of the incident that occurred in the afternoon Tuesday involving a blind man and a need for his "lack of medication."

           "The presiding judge called the elections office and said a blind guy came in off his 'meds' and voted his ballot," said elections administrator Jane Anderson. "When he was going out [helped by his wife] , he tripped and fell on one of the election workers and trapped him somehow. As he was being helped up, he fell back on him again."

           Fellow election workers reportedly told Anderson and an Ennis ambulance first responder that the man had hepatitis and that Choate needed to have the matter checked out.

           Choate pointed to the fact she was wearing a long-sleeve shirt that day and reported minor cuts and bruises.

           The identity of the voter was not made known, but voters and election workers alike asked why Palmer Police Chief John Zaidle's department did not respond to the situation when 9-1-1 calls were made.

           "They were picked up by emergency first responders and dispatch," said Zaidle, a 28-year-old chief who was appointed earlier this year.
           Deputy Chief Charles Sullins of the Ellis County Sheriff's Department said the first call came in at 11:41 a.m.

           Since the Ennis first responders received another call saying the couple were to be using a private vehicle for transport, the call placed into the dispatch was canceled.

           Then, at 12:06 p.m. another call came down the road from Jenny's Cafe in downtown Palmer reportedly about the same man having a seizure.
           "When the first responders got there, they disregarded them to go on their own to the hospital," said Sullins.

            The names of the injured couldn't be released at this time from dispatch due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) law passed in 1996 to insure the individuals privacy.

           Asked a hypothetical question about a similar incident occurring with a more controversial person or voter, Anderson said police would have arrived "immediately."

           "He [blind man] was hard to control," she said.

           Fundamental Baptist Church held the ballot boxes for Precinct 116 and 128. A reported altercation occurred in a Red Oak area precinct during the March 4 primary, with police and sheriff deputies responding to the situation, but elections officials said there have been no other incidents.

           Choate and alternate election judge Charee Barrett could not be reached for comment after repeated attempts. 

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