Ringing cellphones, drunken polling booth chief…

April 14, 2008

The judicial problems in Italy of former Justice Minister Clemente Mastella’s wife Sandra signaled the start of the political crisis that forced Italians back to the ballot box on Sunday and Monday, and she was back in the news over a ringing cellphone as she cast her vote.An Italian woman looks at her ballot before voting

Italy’s interior ministry has banned Italians from carrying cellphones or any device that can take pictures or videos into the voting booth, over fears of corruption. Sandra Mastella caused a minor stir when her cell phone started ringing while she voted in the southern town of Ceppaloni on Sunday, prompting electoral workers to call in the police. It turns out her cell phone did not double as a camera, meaning she was not violating the law.

“It was a banal distraction, I had it in my pocket,” Mastella said.

There were minor hiccups at other polling stations as well. In the northern town of Sant’Orsola, the head of a local polling station showed up drunk, prompting colleagues to call in the police. The chief was fined and a new, sober polling booth chairman was instated.

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