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Middletown residents, your voting location might be different June 2; county facing lack of poll workers

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Some Middletown voters will vote in a different location during the June 2 primary, because of changes intended to minimize exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Dauphin County officials are planning to make additional polling place changes in Derry Township and Royalton at their next public meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 13. Instructions on how to join the meeting via conference call are posted online at www.DauphinCounty.org/publicmeeting.

In Middletown, voters in the 2nd Ward, 1st Precinct who normally vote at the Presbyterian Church, 290 N. Union St., will instead vote in the cafeteria of Fink Elementary School at 150 N. Race St.

In the 3rd Ward, 1st Precinct, instead of casting ballots at the Frey Village retirement community and nursing home, voters will do so at Middletown Area High School, 1155 N. Union St.

Voting will take place in the cafeteria immediately inside the high school main entrance.

The polling place changes were announced on the Middletown borough website and Facebook page. The changes are consistent with the list of polling place locations posted on the Dauphin County Elections & Voter Registration website.

The changes were approved by the county Board of Elections, county Director of Elections and Voter Registration Jerry Feaser told the Press & Journal.

The changes are temporary and only in effect for the June 2 primary, in accordance with provisions of Act 12 of 2020, Feaser said. Act 12 was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 27.

The county approved the changes after officials with the permanent locations told the county they did not want to serve as a polling place during the primary, because of concerns related to the coronavirus, Feaser noted.

The other polling place locations for Middletown voters remain the same, according to the county list.

Voters in the 1st Ward, 1st Precinct will vote at the Rescue Fireman’s Home Association, 620 S. Union St.

First Ward, 2nd Precinct voters will vote at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 121 N. Spring St.

Voters in the 2nd Ward, 2nd Precinct will continue to vote at Fink.

Voters in the 3rd Ward, 2nd Precinct will vote at Liberty Fire Company No. 1 at Adelia and Emaus streets.

Residents whose voting locations are changed will be notified by postcard. Additionally, signs will be posted at the former polling places and the new, temporary locations on Election Day.

Poll worker shortage

Poll worker vacancies are also a challenge, according to Dauphin County officials. Nearly 300, or 30 percent of the county’s poll workers who volunteered in prior elections, have declined to serve this election, citing COVID-19 as the reason. Many of the county’s poll workers are older than age of 60 or care for older relatives who have health conditions.

Dauphin County secured personal protective equipment kits available for all Election Day workers, including disinfectant antibacterial wipes, sanitary protective gloves, surgical masks, hand sanitizer and microfiber cloths.

The county also has hand sanitizer, isopropyl alcohol screen wipes and sanitary headset covers for voters. Each polling place will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for disinfecting surfaces and the voting systems, according to a press release.

Although pens will be provided and regularly disinfected, as recommended by the CDC, voters are encouraged to bring their own ball point pens with black or blue ink if they are concerned about safety.

Mail-in ballot option 

Officials at both the county and state level are encouraging voters to use the new mail-in ballot option. No reason is needed to vote by mail, unlike absentee balloting used to be.

“Voting by mail is a safe and secure alternative, especially for the elderly or those with respiratory or immune system issues,’’ Commissioner George P. Hartwick III said. “Our goal is to keep voters safe while ensuring the integrity of our elections.”

To date, the office has processed 24,000 mail-in applications.

To vote by mail, visit www.DauphinCounty.org/vote for a link to download a mail-in ballot application or go to www.VotesPA.com/ApplyMailBallot to apply online. To apply online, you must enter a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID number.

Voters without proper ID need to download the application and use the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Mail applications to: Dauphin County Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration, P.O. Box 1295, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1295. Applications can also be dropped off in a locked box outside the entrance of the Dauphin County Administration Building, 2 S. 2nd St., Harrisburg.

Important deadlines

Important deadlines for the June 2 primary are:

• May 18 is the last day to update voter registration information.

• May 26 is the last day to apply for a mail-in ballot.

• June 2 at 8 p.m. is the deadline to return completed mail-in ballots. 

To learn more about polling places, apply for a mail-in ballot, or watch a video demonstration on how to use the new Clear Ballot voting system, go to www.DauphinCounty.org and then > Government > Election & Voter Registration or call 717-780-6360.