After granting an extension earlier this summer to allow Bigler Township time to complete work needed to comply with inclusive voting standards for polling places, the Clearfield County Election Board denied a petition requesting the township’s polls be moved from the municipal building to Madera Vol. Fire Co.’s social hall.
At Tuesday’s special meeting of the board, Clearfield County Director of Elections Dawn Graham reported the election board visited the Bigler Township polling place at the end of August.
“In regards to accessibility, everything has been brought up to standards,” Graham said. She noted two van accessible parking spaces for disabled voters have been installed on either side of the non-slip asphalt path, with a suitable grade leading to the double-door entrance to the building.
She said her only concern is lighting in the building’s hall that must be updated. Township officials told her the township has applied for a grant to improve the lighting, but would be upgrading it regardless of whether the grant is received.
Graham also noted she considers the general parking at the building “a bit treacherous,” but said that is her personal opinion.
Commissioner Mark McCracken, who is a member of the election board, said. “The inspection found the township really stepped up and took care of a number of issues. There were a lot of improvements,” McCracken stated.
Supervisor R. Philbert Myers told the board that township residents have been voting at the location since 1972.
“We’ve voted there every year since then,” Myers explained.
Bigler Township Solicitor Ron Repak told the board there was a petition with a 100 signatures from township residents requesting the polling site not be relocated.
“It’s been there for 48 years without complaint or injury. Bigler Township has expended tremendous resources to make the updates. I believe the polling place is compliant with the Department of Justice and we want the location to remain at Bigler Township,” Repak said.
Board Alternate Allen Bietz made the motion to deny the petition to move the polling place from the municipal building to the firehall. It was seconded by board Alternate Bob Baronak. All three board members — McCracken, Bietz and Baronak — voted in favor of the action.
Bietz and Baronak are currently serving on the board because Commissioners John Sobel and Tony Scotto are currently recused from the board because they are seeking re-election to the positions.
McCracken said, “We do appreciate the work the township did to come into compliance. We appreciate them stepping up and the time and investment they have put into this.”