March 26, 2014 —
HONESDALE, PA — Keeping polling places up to modern standards is more than routine business in rural parts of northern Wayne County.
Some places, like lightly populated Scott Township, simply don’t have alternative sites. The township building there has hosted voting since 1892, said Director of Elections Cindy Furman. It is one of the four of Wayne’s 35 polling places that is not up to state handicapped-accessible standards, but there is no other place in the township that is.
The county commissioners, meeting as the board of elections on March 13, moved to reduce the incompatible sites to three, when they agreed to go forward with plans to move the polling place in Mount Pleasant Township from the Pleasant Mount Community Center to the township’s new meeting room.
State law requires the board of elections to hold a public hearing prior to the move and Furman said there will be those opposed, because they are accustomed to walking to the polls. The new site is about a mile away.
Furman said the new site is compatible, except for a small lip at the doors, which will be eliminated when the parking lot of the new meeting space is paved, which is expected to happen this summer.
At the suggestion of Commissioner Brian Smith, the change would take place at the fall elections. Smith said that to ease the change, notice of change would be posted at the May 20 primary election. “It’s one more way to get the word out, and we don’t want to impact the turnout,” he said.
Commissioner Jonathan Fritz, who recently toured the two sites with Furman, agreed with Smith, saying “Change is uncomfortable and communication eases it.”
He suggested the board’s meeting with township supervisors and planning commission.
Commissioner Wendell Kay, who chairs the board, said state code determines the notification process, which will also include a mailing to notify voters of the board’s plans.
The board directed Furman to get the notification process underway and agreed to arrange a meeting of the board within the township supervisors’ June meeting agenda.
For the time being, incompatible sites will remain in Scott and Buckingham townships and at the Waymart Borough Hall.
In a brief regular commissioners’ meeting earlier, the panel agreed to accept a Juvenile Court Justices Commission grant of $77,781, which funds juvenile court officers and school-based probation officers.
They also approved the hiring of Suzanne Crum as part-time food service work, paid at a rate of $9.23 per hour.