County Board of Elections reversed decision to close precincts
By Justin Strawser
SUNBURY - The Northumberland County Board of Elections reversed a decision Wednesday morning to consolidate certain election districts in the county because there wouldn't be enough time to properly close polling stations before the 2013 elections are over.
Earlier this month, a resolution was passed that called for nine voting precincts to be consolidated into four in Mount Carmel, four precincts to be consolidated into two in Mount Carmel Township, six precincts to be consolidated into three in Shamokin, and two precincts in Zerbe Township to be reduced to one, a move that was expected to save the county $24,000. The consolidation was originally expected to take effect for the May 21 primary election.
"It was too close to the election. We got a lot of complaints. It's the right thing to do," Commissioner Vinny Clausi said Wednesday.
The board was also afraid that registered voters who don't get newspapers that list the consolidations might show up at the wrong polling stations on election day.
Commissioner Stephen Bridy told his fellow commissioners they wouldn't be able to decide which districts would be closing until after the general election in November since they wouldn't have the appropriate data to make an informed decision.
However, he said, a notice could be placed at every polling station to inform voters of possible changes after the election, and letters could be sent out to the voters of the districts where changes would occur.
"If we do this, it has to be fair and equitable across the county," Bridy said.
The commissioner presented a four-page study showing the number of precincts in the county, the number of registered voters within a municipality, the area in square miles and how many polling stations could potentially be closed.
It is possible that 29 precincts will be consolidated for an overall savings of approximately $30,000.
The commissioners directed Alisha Herb, chief registrar of the county board of elections office, to make a recommendation to the board shortly after the general election.
Last week, Herb said the move to consolidate precincts would save the county $12,000 per election or $24,000 per year in poll workers' salaries, rent, paperwork and supplies.
Herb said the primary reason for the consolidations is the low number of voters in each of the precincts. She said residents would not have to travel much farther to vote in their new precincts.