MERCER — County officials will seek approval for a plan that would eliminate 10 voting districts and move polling locations for about 1,900 registered voters June 28 in Common Pleas Court of Mercer County.
Senior Judge John Reed will hear arguments on the proposal at 1 p.m. in Courtroom 2. If the court approves the county election department’s request, the new districts could go into effect with the Nov. 5 general municipal election.
The proposal would eliminate districts in Farrell, Sharon, Sharpsville, and Jefferson, Springfield and South Pymatuning townships. However, most of the district consolidations would keep county residents at the same voting locations where they cast ballots in the primary last month.
For example, none of the four consolidations in Sharon would require voters to find a different polling locations.
Of the 8,254 registered voters in the affected districts, more than three-quarters — 6,342 — would continue to vote in the same places they did last month.
Jeff Greenburg, director of Mercer County Department of Voter Registration and Election, said he wanted the consolidation to inconvenience voters as little as possible.
“That was what we were looking for,” he said. “We wanted the maximum savings for the county with the new voting machines, but we wanted to combine that with minimal impact on voters.
The judge’s decision could have a larger impact on Mercer County finances. With the county poised to purchase a new voting system for the November election, eliminating 10 districts would save the county about $100,000 worth of new voting machines.
Under the new system scheduled for implementation in November, the county would have one scanner-counter and one ballot marking device manufactured by ES&S of Omaha, Neb., at each polling location. The arrangement is expected to cost about $10,000 for each precinct.
“To me, that was the best number we could have come up with,” Greenburg said.
Greenburg said the county commissioners signed a contract with ES&S last week for the final purchase of its new voting system, with delivery expected before the end of July.
The election department’s precinct consolidation filing includes maps of the new districts, compiled by BonData, a mapping contractor in Hummelstown, Dauphin County.
Residents who have objections to the proposed precinct changes have to file their input before the hearing with the office of Mercer County Prothonotary Ruth Bice, under the docket number, 2019-1852.
If Reed approves the new voting districts, the county election office would submit the approved documents to the Pennsylv ania Department of State, but Greenburg said the state agency has already granted tentative approval for the plan.
Copies of the changes, including maps of the proposed districts, are available at the courthouse in the election and chief clerk’s offices, public libraries and municipal buildings in the affected municipalities, all post offices that serve the affected districts, and on the county web site, https://www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us/election/precincts/ProposedChanges.htm