New state election laws are sure to make the primary election on April 28 a little more interesting.

For example, anyone now can get a ballot in advance and mail it in to the election office. The new law allows any registered voter to vote absentee regardless of the reason.

However, those ballots won't be counted on Election Night at the polls as usual. Instead, the ballots will all be kept at the courthouse and officials will begin scanning them the day after the election.

In addition, if a voter asks for a ballot, he or she cannot go to the polls and cast a regular ballot — regardless of whether he or she didn't return the ballot. In the past, if a person asked for an absentee ballot and didn't return it, they could go to the polls and vote and the absentee ballot would be voided. Now, if the voter didn't return the ballot and goes to the polls, the voter can only vote by a provisional ballot. That ballot then isn't counted until the election board determines it is legal.

This is a two-prong issue. First, it may well decrease the number of voters going to the polls and reduce any long lines. However, if a lot of people choose that option, it may delay the outcome of a close race until the other ballots are counted the next day.

Time will tell whether voters want to cast their ballots on Election Day or don't care as long as they know the votes will be tallied the next day.

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We should soon know who will be seeking nominations as the petitions can be circulated starting Jan. 28.

Some candidates have already announced. It will be interesting to see how many more come out.

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We do know two of the three statewide offices have incumbents seeking re-election. That is Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who reportedly has $3 million to start his re-election campaign. State Treasurer Joe Torsella has a reported $1 million in his campaign account as he seeks a second term.

The third position at the state level is that of auditor general. Incumbent Eugene DePasquale can't seek a third term as that office — as well as the above two — has a two-term limit.

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If social media is any indication, the race of Brad Roae's seat as the 6th District State House of Representatives may be a lively one. Roae has successfully held that office for a number of years.

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With the census happening this year, citizens are reminded of the importance of responding to the census taker. The statistics are used by the federal government when determining federal funding. If some residents are not counted, that could mean substantial losses of revenues for the area.

Linesville Mayor Dave Hoogstad Sr. reminded residents of Linesville at the borough council meeting recently that it could costs thousands of dollars in revenue for residents not counted.

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In the meantime, others are talking about the importance of redistricting, which is done every 10 years when the census is complete. Many are working for legislation to ban the procedure called "gerrymandering," which means those responsible for the boundary lines favor one party over another. That could also translate to money for various items.

Although the committee will come up with a procedure, I have a very simplistic (and I admit it) solution.

Districts are drawn to make certain the population for each position is relatively equal in number to others.

My simplistic view is to look at the map and census numbers — and without looking at the voter registration totals — compile the boundaries accordingly. It very well could put two incumbents in the same district or some other political result that is not popular. But, to me, the money wasted and time spent becomes a little ridiculous.

This is my humble opinion only. I'm sure there are some reasons why that doesn't work.

But, several people have voiced concerns to me that people aren't aware of its importance.

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Linesville Borough Council is always fun to attend and listen to the quick wit of some members. At a recent meeting, a question arose and borough secretary Karen Moss gave her answer. After Solicitor Jeff Millin came in, council members asked him for a legal answer. He noted, "Karen is right." This prompted others to say, "Karen is always right." Karen laughed and said she didn't realize why everybody doesn't listen to her.

When it came time for committee reports, Mike Heaney, chairman of streets and sidewalks, reported, "We got a lot of streets and sidewalks out there." He then noted the committee is looking at what needs to be done.

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At the recent meeting of the committee to plan a celebration for the 75th anniversary of the Crawford County Fair, members noted that Diamond Jim (Kenny Carr) may have to make some changes to his outfit. Although he wears blue jeans and a plaid shirt, one youngster called out: "There's Santa Claus."

Diamond Jim is the official mascot and logo for the 75th fair in recognition of the fact that diamonds are the official gem for a 75th anniversary.

His job is to promote the upcoming event throughout the county. The observance offers free admission to the fair and the grandstands on Friday, Aug. 21, with a grand parade that evening.

Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.

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