Pike Township and Bradford County election officials discussed possibly moving Pike Township’s polling place out of the township for future elections at the Bradford County Commissioners meeting on Thursday morning.
Pike Township’s polling location is currently at the township building at 1514 Haighs Pond Road, but in recent elections issues with accessibility and the amount of room necessary to accommodate the elections became apparent, according to Kathy Bresnan and Linda Russell, Pike Township election officials.
“It’s very small, we are very cramped, and it was difficult to accommodate folks with accessibility issues, wheelchairs or walkers, before we got the new electronic equipment, and that takes up even more space,” Bresnan said at the meeting.
“We did the best we could in the spring to accommodate, but there is not enough room to wait in line and the elderly have a difficult time waiting.”
Bresnan went on to say that there was one individual that came to vote in a wheelchair and furniture and other items had to be moved to get the person in.
“There is no room for poll watchers whatsoever, or if we had a constable come, which we did a couple times, they would literally have to stand at the back of the room where the machines were. We’re worried about confidentiality and privacy issues,” Bresnan added.
The township building is one of three buildings in the entire township that physically could hold a polling place. One being the VFW Post 6824 next door to the township building, which was rejected because it serves alcohol, and the Neath Church Community Building, which was the previous location for the polling place but has had issues with the parking lot in years past.
The Pike Township officials want the polling place moved to the Parrish House at the United Church of Christ inside LeRaysville Borough which is surrounded on all sides by Pike Township. They said that LeRaysville, despite being outside of the township, was a centralized location and had all of the facility requirements a polling place would need like restrooms, a parking lot, handicap accessible and more emergency exits. LeRaysville Borough votes across the street at the community building.
“It would easily support our needs and the needs of the community, Bresnan said.
“We just need more room, that’s all there is to it,” Russell added.
Former commissioner John Sullivan, who currently serves on the county’s Election Board, said in the meeting that he had spoken with their solicitor and was advised to deny the relocation because the polling place would not be in Pike Township and that would violate the applicable statute. Sullivan also said that without a “good enough reason” the statute could not be circumvented.
“Legally we would have to find an exception, because it would set precedent,” said Fred Wheaton, a member of the Bradford County Election Board, at the meeting. “We understand your anguish and pain and everything that is going on. … But there would have to be a justified reason.”
Sullivan said he would table the motion to move the polling place for two weeks until the next commissioners meeting so that he and other officials could examine the buildings and make a more educated decision.
“We certainly want to accommodate you the best we can,” he added.