Upper Burrell asks court to order voting redistricting
Upper Burrell officials on Friday filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order Westmoreland County to redistrict the township’s two voting districts.
Township supervisors filed the court action, along with a petition from 20 registered voters, contending that 75 percent of the town’s residents are required to vote in one precinct.
“There are situations in Upper Burrell Township where a husband and wife and family, living in the same house, vote in different election districts. This is absurd and unreasonable,” township Solicitor Stephen Yakopec Jr. wrote in the lawsuit.
According to court documents, 1,180 voters are registered in one of the township’s voting districts while just 366 are assigned to the other precinct.
The disparity has caused voters in the larger precinct to wait in lengthy lines at times while those assigned to the smaller district have had no delays in the casting of ballots, according to the lawsuit.
Yakopec did not return a call seeking comment and calls to the township supervisors office on Friday went unanswered.
The small, rural township that sits in the northern Westmoreland County, has about 2,300 residents.
Westmoreland County elections bureau Director Beth Lechman could not be reached for comment on Friday. County Solicitor Melissa Guiddy declined to discuss the lawsuit, saying she had not reviewed the allegations in the court filing.
County election officials late last year said they would consider exploring redistricting in communities where polling precincts have become too large.
State guidelines recommend that precincts in Pennsylvania don’t exceed 1,200 voters. County officials said 44 of the county’s 305 precincts exceed that threshold.
Officials in Murrysville complained last November after long lines formed at several of the municipality’s precincts, including two in which more than 3,600 voters are registered.
Murrysville leaders previously suggested they would ask a court to intervene to redistrict voting precincts but, as of Friday, no lawsuit had been filed.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]