Meadville Tribune

Local News

March 2, 2014

Before you vote, check out legislative redistricting changes

MEADVILLE — Across Pennsylvania, voters will cast ballots this year for governor and lieutenant governor, congressional representative, and members of the state House and Senate, all of whom will take office in 2015.

But, as Crawford County voters step into voting booths this May, some may find they are voting for a different state House representative than they did in 2012. That’s because Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate redistricting issue has been settled — resulting in redrawn legislative districts for both the state House and Senate.

Redistricting is required every 10 years following the U.S. Census to take into account shifts in population to keep all legislative districts as equal in population as possible.

While Pennsylvania’s congressional redistricting plan for the 2012 election following the 2010 U.S. Census was approved and boundaries changed for the 2012 election, the state House and Senate redistricting plan was subject to a court fight and subsequently rejected by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. A new state House and Senate redistricting plan was developed by the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission and approved last year by the state’s Supreme Court.

All of Crawford County remains within the 50th Senate District, but number and boundary changes have happened to the county’s three House seats.

When voters head to the polls in the May 20 primary, the state House vote they cast will be either for the Sixth, 17th or 65th state House district, depending on where they reside.

Melanie Mushrush, the county’s director of voter services, said she’s not been advised by the Department of State that her office needs to send out notices to voters that their legislative district may have changed.

Registered voters in Crawford County may request a voter registration card, but Mushrush notes the card only specifies the person’s polling place, not any legislative district.

In Crawford County, redistricting has resulted in the current Sixth District area shifting about 15 miles west, covering the central part of the county; the 17th District has shifted farther west, covering the entire western part of the county as well as southern portions of the county; and the 65th District has expanded from Warren County into the eastern part of Crawford, encompassing Titusville to Spartansburg.

Because of redistricting, the county’s two major political party chairs, Jody Leech of the Republican Party and Diane Adsit of the Democratic Party, are advising their committee people and the public that the change may be a bit of a jolt for some voters.

“They may see some unfamiliar names on the ballot,” Leech said. “I’m telling people to make sure they know who their candidates are and find out as much as they can about them.”

“People will have to look and see who is running,” Adsit said. “It’s especially true for the 17th (House District) and the 50th Senate (District) seats. They are open seats.”

No incumbents are running in of those two races.

Bob Robbins, a Republican from Greenville who currently holds the 50th Senate seat, is retiring when his four-year term expires at the end of 2014, while state Rep. Michele Brooks, a Republican from the Jamestown area who currently holds the 17th District seat in the House, has announced she’s seeking the 50th Senate seat being vacated by Robbins.

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