By Keith Gushard
Vernon Township’s two voting precincts may become three for the 2014 primary election and beyond.
The two current Vernon Township precincts are disproportionate in the number of registered voters with Vernon District 1 having about a third of the number of registered voters as Vernon District 2.
Crawford County Board of Elections on Thursday unanimously agreed to pursue the matter with the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, since Pennsylvania recently completed reapportionment of state and federal legislative districts. Reapportionment of state and federal legislative districts to reflect population shifts is required by each state every 10 years after release of the latest U.S. Census data on population.
The county first considered splitting Vernon Township into three voting precincts instead of two in 2012 and had petitioned Crawford County Court of Common Pleas as required under Pennsylvania’s election laws. However, the idea eventually was put on hold by the county because legislative reapportionment wasn’t completed in 2012.
The proposed split into three precincts would be of approximate equal size at 1,004, 1,171 and 1,107 registered voters, according to Melanie Mushrush, the county’s director of elections.
The proposed Vernon district boundaries are:
n District 1 — North from Route 6,19, 322 and 98 intersection along the east side of Route 98 to Hayfield Township boundary line. East along township boundary line to French Creek. South along Vernon Township/City of Meadville boundary line to Union Township boundary line. West to east lane of Interstate 79, north to interchange, west along north side of Route 322, 6, 19 to northeast corner of intersection of Route 6, 19, 322 and 98.
n District 2 — East from Route 6, 19 322 and 98 intersection along the south side of Route 6, 19, 322 to east lane of Interstate 79 interchange, south along east lane of Interstate 79 to Union Township boundary line, west along Vernon Township/Union Township boundary line to South Watson Road, north along the east side of South Watson Run Road, Hager Road and Cutter Road to Route 6 and 322, east along Route 6 and 322 to intersection of Route 6, 19, 322 and 98.
n District 3 — North from Route 6, 19, 322 and 98 intersection along the west side of Route 98 to Hayfield Township boundary line, west to Summit Township boundary line, south to Greenwood Township boundary line, east to South Watson Run Road, north along west side of South Watson Run Road, Hager Road and Cutter Road to Route 6 and 322, east along Route 6 and 322 to intersection of Route 6, 19 322 and 98.
The county election board Thursday agreed to revive its county court petition to split Vernon Township into three precincts and to notify Pennsylvania’s Department of State of its intent to do so for the May 20 primary. All three Vernon Township precincts will be within the same U.S. Congressional and state House and Senate districts, Mushrush said.
Mushrush said the county has enough voting machines to adequately cover Vernon Township going from two to three voting districts.
Currently, Vernon District 1 is allocated three machines and Vernon District 2 is allocated nine each election day, Mushrush said. The split into three districts would just divide the number of machines in the current District 2 among the new District 2 and District 3, she said.