CLEARFIELD – Election precinct boundaries still aren’t going over well with the residents of Bradford Township, and were a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Clearfield County Commissioners’ meeting.
According to previously-published GANT News reports, on March 13, the county’s Election Board decided to keep the township’s precinct boundaries, as defined by a court order issued in 1985.
The precinct issues arose after the last presidential election when there were allegations of fraud across the country. State officials were mandated to ensure the validity of voter registrations.
County officials maintain voter registration records and were in turn mandated to verify voters’ physical addresses and whether or not they were voting at the correct precinct.
It was discovered then that some voters were possibly not voting in the correct precincts in Clearfield County, which resulted in a notice being mailed out.
The commissioners previously directed the Election Office to halt mailing notices until a final decision was made. In March, the staff was directed to resume their mailings to the affected voters.
On Tuesday resident Art Kephart requested further explanation of the boundaries, noting so far as his knowledge, there weren’t any Bigler residents moved to the Woodland precinct.
After some discussion, Commissioner Mark B. McCracken retrieved the court order from his office and provided a copy to Kephart.
He said it granted the consolidation of the “existing Bigler precinct and Jackson precinct, east of Route 970, into one to be known as the Bigler precinct.”
Secondly it granted the consolidation of “Woodland and Jackson precinct, west of Route 970, into one precinct to be known as Woodland precinct.”
“I wasn’t trying to change anything,” McCracken said of the motion he made at the March Election Board meeting. “… We felt the intent of the order was for Jackson to be split by [SR] 970, not also Bigler and Woodland.”
“It was based upon my interpretation of the order and the research we have done. But remember none of us were [in office] when the court order originally came out.”
McCracken said the commissioners were told they had to address this issue and their interpretation was the best they could do under a tight deadline with the Primary Election approaching.
Kephart said he’s been a registered voter since 1970 and never went to the Jackson precinct to vote. However, he’s been notified that he must vote in Bigler now, not Woodland.
“You still don’t have this right,” he said. He added that he will have to drive right by the Woodland precinct to go to vote when Bigler residents can still “walk down.”
Kephart said that everyone should be treated the same in Bradford Township.
Commissioner John A. Sobel, chair, suggested that the commissioners discuss the issue in greater detail with the Bradford Township supervisors and possibly include residents.
Kephart also asked about having the commissioners provide the supervisors’ office with petition guidelines. Sobel directed him to have someone make a specific request to the commissioners.
McCracken said the ultimate resolution would be for a petition to be filed through the court to change the current order. For example, he said he’s had a map drawn up with Shiloh Road as the east-west dividing line.
He said it’s probably what the citizens out there should consider doing if they are unhappy with it being SR 970.
Sobel and McCracken also said they’re open to hearing other interpretations of the court order as well as from anyone who has specific knowledge of Bradford Township’s precinct history.