A contentious race for Newtown Township supervisor in Delaware County created a brief ruckus when plain clothes sheriff's deputies showed up at a polling place in a fire house off Rt. 252 and demanded supporters for Republican Ed Partridge to remove a poster from the lobby.

The deputies told Jan Elston, 82, who was also handing out ballots, to take the poster, which contained campaign information and news clippings, out into the rain.

A nearby sign for the party's endorsed candidate, Linda Houldin, was not challenged by the deputies, who would not identify themselves when asked by a reporter.

"Gee, why?" questioned the octogenarian, pointing out that her poster was about 15 feet from the door to the polls, a distance which she said was allowed.

"We were just told it had to be outside," the deputy said. He said he was acting on orders of Francis Catania, the county's solicitor.

By now the stir drew the attention of other poll workers and party supporters. David Dunn, a supporter for Partridge, grabbed the Houldin sign and marched outdoors.

Kerk Farrell, majority polling inspector, came into the lobby holding a cellphone to his ear.

"It's an old lady. What do you want me to do?" Farrell said, shouting into his cellphone just before he hung up. "Why is he jumping all over me? This is a volunteer job."

When asked whom he was talking to, Farrell replied "Catania was his last name. He was threatening to call the police."

"It is a little testy in the township today," said Patti Wilson, 55, a voter who was leaving with her daughter Carolyn Wilson, 19, as the dispute ended.

Inside the polls, two Democrats poll workers sat smiling.

"I'm proud to be a Democrat," said Ellen Gross, a Democratic clerk at the poll, leaning over to fellow Democrat Bruce Killen.

"We just watch them eat their own out here," Killen replied.

By late afternoon, Farrell said Elston's poster remained in its original location.

Newtown residents have been upset recently with the inability of the supervisor's to come to any agreement on township business. Recently, four township officials were charged with theft for allegedly using the township's FedEx account for personal use.

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or mschaefer@phillynews.com.