CLEARFIELD – On Tuesday the Clearfield County Election Board issued its report on its findings and recommendation with regards to Bradford Township’s petition to redistrict its election precincts.
According to a previously-published GANT News report, both Pennsylvania Election Code and an order from President Judge Fredric Ammerman required the board to review the township’s petition and to present recommendations to the court.
The board, along with Solicitor Kim Kesner, has reviewed the township’s petition and it raised a legal concern because any new precinct must have boundaries with “clearly visible physical features that conform with census blocks from the most recently completed decennial federal census.”
Kesner said while the petition acknowledged this legal requirement, its attached map only showed a diagonal line from a northwest point to a southwest point on the Bradford Township line.
He noted that neither the map nor the petition indicated how that diagonal line specifically complied with the statutory requirements, further explaining that it can’t be correlated with specific roadways, streams, monuments, etc.
Kesner reiterated again that the board is not trying to delay or obstruct the township’s redistricting petition and actually feels that it’s the best remedy to the issue.
However, he said it also can’t recommend something if it’s not legally sustainable. He said the board isn’t offering a proper line because the county’s GIS Department had previously produced several maps for the township that might be acceptable.
“The board is reluctant to advocate any particular division, which may be objectionable to the petitioners,” stated the report on the investigative findings and recommendation.
“In short, the board has no intent to oppose any division conforming with legal requirements and acceptable to this court and the voters of Bradford Township.
“Therefore, the sole recommendation of the board of elections is that this court schedule and conduct a hearing on the petition after due and proper notice to all voters of Bradford Township who may wish to express a position on what ‘will promote the convenience of the electors and the public interests.’”
The board voted to authorize Kesner to file the report on their behalf with the court later Tuesday.
According to previously-published reports, on March 13, the Election Board decided to keep Bradford Township’s precinct boundaries, as defined by a court order issued in 1985, which upset township officials and residents.
The order 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.”
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 following a special Election Board meeting. Bradford Township has two election precincts, which are Bradford First and Bradford Second.
In October of 2017, Bradford Second Precinct had 1,164 registered voters to just 569 in the Bradford Township First Precinct. As of Sept. 26, Bradford First had 994 registered voters and Bradford Second had 714.