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Whose Line is it Anyway? Phoenixville, Chesco Quibble Over Redistricting

The county says it's the borough's job to redraw precinct lines. The borough disagrees.

The Phoenixville Borough Council has a simple message for Chester County Voter Services: Do your job.

According to The Times Herald, after spending months drawing up new wards to balance the population in the borough, Phoenixville’s redistricting has been put on hold because of a disagreement over whose responsibility it is to establish new precinct lines.

The problem now is this: if the 2013 elections were held today, with new wards but without new precincts, Phoenixville voters would have to use two ballots.

Chester County Director of Voter Services Jim Forsythe maintains the job falls to the borough, while the council says that when it established new wards, its redistricting work was done.

The facts, it seems, are on Phoenixville’s side.

Act 43, also known as “The New Borough Code,” was passed in May by the state legislature and went into effect on July 16. The legislation, according to the paper, holds Pennsylvania boroughs responsible for mapping their own wards, but doesn’t speak to any additional redistricting responsibilities.

“It is the duty of the county because they conduct the election…It’s not implied, but you can more or less infer (that) from the election codes,” the director of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs told the paper.

Read the full story here.

Previous Patch reporting on Phoenixville's ward redrawing efforts:

  • Borough Council to Vote on New Wards in November
  • Phoenixville's Ward Redistricting Almost Complete
  • Borough Redistricting Committee Mulls Changes
  • Borough Begins Redrawing Wards
Laura Schwartz February 20, 2013 at 03:11 AM
Really? They can't figure this out? Give me a pencil, I'll draw the lines.
Richard A Breuer February 20, 2013 at 12:34 PM
The Borough's redistricting committee deserves credit for redrawing the wards with very small population differences. The real problem is that if the old wards are used this year (which is what Manager Krack's quoted statement seems to say) the voters will be denied the effects of that redistricting. To all intents and purposes, the redistricting will be postponed to 2015, since no borough offices are elected in 2014, so that ward boundaries don't matter. The bottom line is that use of the old wards will dilute the strength of individual voters in the North Ward and will in effect disenfranchise voters in other locations, who would be in a new ward under the new boundaries. Just for example, parts of the former East Ward are in the remapped Middle Ward, but using the old wards, those voters would not be voting for a Middle Ward councilperson. "One man -- one vote" is required by the US Constitution. Reapportionment of local districts after the census is mandated by the PA constitution and statutes. The Borough and the County should not be finger pointing, they should be solving the problem so that this year's election can be held using the new wards.
karlub February 20, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Drawing the precinct lines is not a problem, actually. I see no reason why they cannot be completed and approved prior to the primary election.
Larry Tillotson February 20, 2013 at 09:45 PM
The Re-Warding guidiance was very specific. We could only use population, not voters (not the same number) to set the Wards. The County then was to take the number of voters in each new Ward (that number is not 4100 per Wardl) and make 3 Precincts per Ward. The Committee has already re-convened and divided each Ward into 3 precincts of equal population (not voter numbers) that we plan to send to County next month in response of them NOT doing what they are paid to do by taxpayers dollars. Service on the Re-Warding Committee is pro-bono.
Richard A Breuer February 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM
The question is whether this coming election will use the new wards, as it should, or the old ones. The answer needs to come from somebody who can give an authoritative answer.

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