Centre County court approves Benner, Halfmoon voter precinct changes

A Centre County court has approved election redistricting for Benner and Halfmoon townships, based on petitions from elections officials trying to balance the number of voters in each precinct.

The county elections office now will send out new voter registration cards to those residents affected by the changes and include a fluorescent-colored insert to highlight the changes. They will be in effect for the Nov. 5 municipal general election.

In Benner Township, the number of voters registered in precincts 36 and 37 were “very off-kilter” as assistant elections Director Jodi Neidig put it. Precinct 36, Benner North, had 2,359 voters and 37, Benner South, had just 350.

State law says that precincts should not exceed 1,200 voters each.

The Board of Elections petitioned to redraw those lines, placing 1,205 voters in Benner North and 1,504 in Benner South, a significant increase.

“Even though that’s still over the maximum guideline, it wouldn’t benefit us to create a third district,” Neidig said. “It’s not that the polling location can’t hold that.”

The Benner boundaries changed from splitting the township into rough quadrants to creating three very different districts. Benner also has offshoot sub-precincts called “Independent,” in which voters consider State College Area School District issues instead of Bellefonte Area. Those voters all now will be part of Benner South.

The line between north and south now runs approximately along parts of Upper Gyp and Lower Gyp roads, Dixon Road, Seibert Road, Rock Road and Fox Hill Road.

Halfmoon Township, until now, has had only one precinct, which now has more than 1,800 voters. Elections officials petitioned to create a new precinct in the township, placing 752 voters in the current Halfmoon Proper precinct 55 and 1,107 in the new Halfmoon East Central precinct 90.

The new precinct 90 boundaries are Marengo Road, Halfmoon Valley Road, Houtz Lane and a zig-zag southeast to the border with Ferguson Township.

Halfmoon recently changed its single polling place from the municipal building to the Halfmoon Christian Fellowship Church, after voters experienced crowding, parking and other problems. Manager Susan Steele said the municipal building will again become a polling place, now that Halfmoon is split into two precincts.

Both petitions received Court of Common Pleas approval Aug. 12, according to court documents.

For more information, contact the elections office at 355-6703.