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Vote signs

Almost 3,600 Indiana County voters will head to different places to cast ballots in the Democratic and Republican party primaries three weeks from now.

The Indiana County Board of Elections on Wednesday approved changes to six polling places. Some are one-time only, some will continue until further notice.

The biggest change will be on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus in Indiana, where Third Ward, First Precinct voters — the vast majority of whom are IUP students — will vote with their Third Ward, Second Precinct counterparts at the polling place in Zink Hall along Maple Street.

The switch from voting at Pratt Hall will continue until further notice, Chief Clerk Robin Maryai said.

“This makes sense because when the kids are here, its easier for them if they don’t know what precinct they’re in,” Maryai said.

In White Township, the Sixth Precinct voters who have reported to the YMCA on Ben Franklin Road North until now will vote until further notice at Summit Church along West Pike.

The Indiana and White Township polling place changes are repeats of those made for the May 2020 primary.

Blairsville Ward No. 3 voters, who cast ballots in the past at Morewood Towers, will vote until further notice at Blairsville Community Center along East North Lane.

Conemaugh Township Precinct No. 3 voters will no longer vote at the Smith Bus Garage. The American Legion Post along Route 286 near Saltsburg will be the permanent polling place.

The Armstrong Precinct No. 1 polling place will permanently change from The Event Hall near Parkwood to the Fairman Family Farms along Millen Road near Shelocta.

All those registered in Clymer will vote this year, spring and fall only, at the Clymer Fire Hall along Sherman Street. Voting at the municipal building will resume in 2022, according to the board.

The county plans to send postcards to notify all the affected registered voters and post signs on the polling places on Primary Day, May 18.

The board reeled off a number of election-cycle formalities in advance of the primary polling in a rapid-fire, 9-minute session.

The election board consists of Michael Keith, Robin Gorman and Sherene Hess, holding the responsibilities in tandem with their roles as the elected county commissioners.

2021 is a municipal election year, meaning county, borough, township and school board races are on the ballots along with a handful of statewide judicial seats. No state or federal legislative terms are up for regular election this year.

The general election will be held Nov. 2.

Ahead of the primary, the county will conduct the legally mandated public test of the tabulation equipment at 1:30 p.m. May 14 in the commissioners’ hearing room in the courthouse.

The count of absentee and mail-in ballots will begin first thing in the morning on Primary Day rather than after the polls closed as was the case for the Nov. 3, 2020, General Election, when officials weren’t permitted to start the count until 8 p.m. when the in-person polling places closed.

The pre-canvass will start at 7 a.m. May 18 in the commissioners’ hearing room.

Maryai said a representative designated by each candidate and a monitor named by each political party would be permitted in the room during the count.

Maryai, county Human Resources Director Melissa Miller and Solicitor Matthew Budash were named to the resolution board. Their duty would be to study damaged ballots and faithfully recreate them to be counted in the machines on Primary Day.

The election board also will convene at 10 a.m. May 19 to review any absentee or mail-in ballots that were set aside (because of defects) from the primary for rulings on their validity.

The board also will meet at 10:30 a.m. May 24 to examine provisional ballot envelopes from electors who cast those ballots on May 18.

Maryai, Voter Registration Director Debra Streams and Danielle Clifford, an election assistant in the commissioners’ office, were named to the official return board. That panel will convene at 8:30 a.m. May 21 for the computation and canvassing of Primary Day votes.

“It’s the tabulation corps, essentially,” Maryai said.

Monday is the last day to register for to vote in the primary. May 11 is the deadline to apply for a civilian absentee ballot. Mail-in and absentee ballots must be delivered to the courthouse by 8 p.m. May 18.

“They may either drop them off in the voter registration office in the basement of the courthouse or use the drop box in the lobby of the courthouse from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday,” Maryai said. “Voters are to bring their own ballots; those who are physically disabled should call us for help to bring that in.”

Streams said the voter registration office has sent 4,172 absentee and mail-in ballots to voters since Friday and, so far, 10 have been returned.

Staff Writer/Web Editor

Chauncey Ross represents the Gazette at the county courthouse; Indiana Area and Homer-Center schools; Blairsville, Homer City, Clymer, Center and Burrell; and is something of an Open Records, Right to Know and Sunshine Law advocate in the newsroom.