MERCER – In a report last week to Mercer County Commissioners, the county’s director of voter registrations and elections said his office’s preparations for the 2018 elections are going on schedule, as long as Pennsylvania’s congressional district map issue doesn’t disrupt the May 15 primary.

“As long as our elections are on schedule, we will be fine,” Jeff Greenburg, the county official in charge of the election process, said Thursday during the county commissioners meeting.

However, the dispute over Pennsylvania’s districts could still affect the election schedule. State House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, and Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, submitted a new district map Friday to Gov. Tom Wolf.

That action came just hours ahead of a deadline imposed by the state Supreme Court, but the state legislature had not yet approved the new district map. The legislature is expected to hold votes on the new map next week, in time for a Feb. 16 deadline for approval by the governor.

If approved, that proposed map would have no impact on Mercer County, which would remain in the 3rd District, which would encompass all of Mercer, Armstrong, Butler and Erie counties, and part of Crawford County. With the inclusion of Butler County, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly would remain the incumbent congressman for Mercer County.

Under the new map, however, Kelly would no longer represent the northern portion of Lawrence County, which would move into the 12th District.

The existing 12th District, which ran from the Ohio border in Lawrence and Beaver counties through Allegheny and Westmoreland counties into Cambria County, is represented by Republican Keith Rothfus of Sewickley. The new map would keep Rothfus in the 12th District.

The 12th District and 7th District in southeastern Pennsylvania – known as the “Goofy kicking Donald Duck district” for its odd shape – were cited as egregious examples of gerrymandering by plaintiffs in a lawsuit that led the state Supreme Court to overturn the current congressional district map.

Greenburg said last month that a delay in settling the congressional district issue could have a serious, and potentially expensive, impact on the 2018 primary election cycle. 

Unless the districts were redrawn in time for congressional candidates to begin circulating petitions by late February, the state would be forced to either reschedule the primary or hold separate primaries, one for the U.S. House of Representatives and another for all other races.

Candidates in the remaining races – governor, state legislature, U.S. Senate and political and political party committees – can begin collecting candidacy petition signatures Tuesday. Candidates must return the signed petitions, along with financial disclosure statements, before March 6.

In Mercer County, candidates for the Greenville Government Study Commission also can circulate petitions on Tuesday. If approved by voters on May 15, the study commission would draw up a home rule charter for the borough.

Greenburg said the petition period for U.S. House candidates could be delayed for about two weeks – from Feb. 27 until March 20 – without affecting his office’s preparation for the primary. The county election department is scheduled to begin programming its electronic voting machines in late March.

Follow Eric Poole on Facebook or Twitter @HeraldEricPoole

Grove City precinct in dire need of workers

Mercer County Bureau of Elections is seeking four election workers to operate the polls in Grove City’s 3rd Precinct polling location. County Director of Voter Registration and Elections Jeff Greenburg said all of the previous election workers have retired, leaving no replacements with no names on the backup sheets.

There are four vacancies – judge of elections (precinct supervisor), majority inspector, minority inspector and clerk. To fill any of the posts, candidates must be a registered voter in the precinct. Poll workers would work at the election site for two elections a year through 2021, and attend training classes before each of those elections.

Base pay for each election is $105 for judge, with the remaining staffers earning $100. Training class pay is $30, with $20 paid after the class and $10 for those who work the following election. Election judges also receive reimbursements for additional responsibilities.

To apply for the vacancies, call Jeff Greenburg at 724-662-7542.

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