Valley voters line up at polling stations

Robert Inglis/The Daily Item

Kathleen Smith casts her vote last November at the Lewisburg 3 polling station at Bucknell University.

Union County Commissioner Stacy Richards raised concerns Tuesday about the potential designation of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts as the permanent polling place for Lewisburg’s 3rd Precinct.

Bucknell’s Larison Hall along Saint George Street is the current home for Precinct 3. Concerns regarding COVID-19 pushed Bucknell to request it be moved to another location. Since the spring primary election, it’s shared the Weis Center with East Buffalo Township Precinct 4.

Lewisburg 3 will be at the Weis Center for the upcoming general election on Nov. 2, Commissioner Jeff Reber said. Discussions will continue about a permanent home.

Richards attended Tuesday morning’s work session remotely. She was unable to attend the afternoon voting session.

During the morning meeting, Richards said a motion to name Weis Center as the permanent location for Lewisburg 3 was removed from Tuesday’s afternoon agenda on her request. She said the Weis Center, located south of Lewisburg 3, was too far for those who might want or need to walk to the polling location.

Richards said she raised concerns before with Greg Katherman, director of elections and voter registration, and suggested pursing the former high school building, the GreenSpace Center, as a potential location.

Debra Sulai, a borough council member, serves as judge of elections for Lewisburg 3. She said the Weis Center could be confusing from a voter’s perspective since it’s not located in the precinct.

“It’s not appropriate to make that a permanent site,” Richards said in agreement. “It’s not in the precinct.”

Katherman said he hasn’t had direct contact with the building owner. Sacred Heart Church and the Donald L. Heiter Community Center were used in years past, prior to Larison, but the county was asked to relocate from each place, Katherman said.

There are 2,200 residents of Lewisburg 3, Katherman said, and none have complained about potential walking distance. Weis Center is about a half-mile walk south of Larison Hall.

“I can’t imagine a lot of those people were walking to Larison,” Katherman said, referring to the shape of the district. “I’m still recommending we stay at the Weis Center for various reasons.”

Regarding COVID-19, Katherman noted that he can’t mandate that voters wear masks at polling locations and as it presently stands, Bucknell requires masks inside its buildings.

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