Many Harrisburg voters will need to cast their ballots in a new polling place next month, as Dauphin County had made numerous location changes to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
For the Nov. 5 general election, voters in seven Harrisburg polling stations, and two more outside of the city, will have new locations, said Gerald Feaser, director of the county’s Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration.
In several other locations, the building will remain the same, but the room or entry point will change.
“We had to make these changes to comply with the law,” Feaser said. “We had no choice.”
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice surveyed a portion of the county’s polling stations, finding “many” to be difficult to access for people with disabilities. Then, last year, the county and the department reached an agreement meant to increase accessibility.
“The county shall select facilities to be used as polling places that do not exclude individuals with disabilities from or deny them the benefits of the polling place, or otherwise subject them to discrimination,” according to the settlement agreement.
As a result, the following polling stations are changing:
Old: Comfort Inn/Passage to India, 525 S. Front St.
New: UPMC Pinnacle/Life Team Facility, 1000 Paxton St.
Old: St. Michael Evangelical Lutheran Church, 118 State St.
New: MLK Jr. City Government Building, 10 N. 2nd St.
Old: Capital Presbyterian Church, 1401 Cumberland St.
New: Downey Elementary School, 1313 Monroe St.
Old: Bellevue Community Center, Briarcliff & Oakwood Rds.
New: John Harris High School Field House, 2451 Market St. (S. 25th Street side)
Old: Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, 2121 N. 3rd St.
New: Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church, Family Life Center (rear entrance), 2430 N. 3rd St.
Old: Hadee Mosque, 245 Division St.
New: Scottish Rite Cathedral (west side of ballroom), 2701 N. 3rd St.
Old: Teamsters Local #776, 2552 Jefferson St.
New: Scottish Rite Cathedral (east side of ballroom), 2701 N. 3rd St.
In addition, for Harrisburg 6 (Susquehanna Art Museum) and Harrisburg 9-3 (Edison Village), the building will remain the same, but the polling location in the building will change.
Elsewhere in Dauphin County, two polling locations are changing:
Old: Middletown Hunters & Anglers, 1350 Schoolhouse Rd.
New: Living Hope Church, 3030 Schoolhouse Rd.
Old: Waterford at Summit View, 8201 President’s Dr.
New: Vietnam Veterans Bingo Hall, 8000 Derry St.
In addition, Lower Paxton 24 (Linglestown Elementary) and Swatara 7 (Lawnton Elementary) will remain in their buildings but change the entry point and room, respectively.
Several of the new polling stations are located just outside of their ward or precinct boundary: Harrisburg 1-1, Harrisburg 4 and Harrisburg 9-4. Feaser said that this is permitted if a suitable location can’t be found within the district boundary itself.
The county also changed several polling places for May’s primary election. However, those changes were made mostly because the former locations either didn’t want to serve, or no longer could serve, as a polling station.
Feaser said that he wanted to make the bulk of the changes this year, in the typically lower-turnout, off-year election. However, he still may need to make additional changes to polling locations next year, when a larger turnout is expected for the presidential election cycle.
“This is an ongoing process, and we’re probably halfway there,” Feaser said.
Click here for a complete list of polling locations in Harrisburg.