Who chooses the polling locations?
There are 202 precincts currently in Berks County.
According to the Pennsylvania Election Code, full discretionary authority to select polling places is given to the County Board of Elections.
Preference is given to public buildings and public schools under the election code. Other considerations are:
- Parking - when the voting district is large
- Location - sites near the population center of the district are preferred
- Notoriety - polling sites should be well known in the locality
- Security - well lit and safe locations are needed for voters and workers alike
What about precinct boundaries?
Unlike the selection of polling places, the boundaries of an election district or precinct cannot be changed without the consent of the Court of Common Pleas. This is true in the case of splitting, combining or reconfiguring precincts.
Conduct Inside The Polling Place
Often, Judges of Election, Majority Inspectors, and Minority Inspectors are NOT elected. This may happen if: 1) no one ran for the position, 2) the person who was elected moved away or resigned, or 3) the elected official became ill on election day and someone else filled their position. If a vacancy occurs before election day, a Court of Common Pleas Judge should be informed so he or she can appoint someone else to fill the vacancy. However, in most counties this procedure is often ignored. Instead, five (5) days before each election, the Board of Elections appoints temporary officials. This informal process works adequately in most divisions.
During election hours (7:00 a.m. until the last person in line at 8:00 p.m. has voted), members of the election board, people with watchers' certificates (one watcher per candidate and one watcher per party and body), people waiting to vote, and people rendering assistance to voters authorized to receive it are allowed inside the polling place. Candidates and Committeepeople are not allowed in the polling place without watchers' certificates. Police are allowed inside the polling place if summoned by the Judge of Election.
After the polls close: members of the election board, people with watchers' certificates, and candidates are allowed inside. Throughout the day: County Commissioners, election department employees on official business, and voting machine mechanics are allowed inside the polls.
MEDIA PERSONNEL are NOT allowed inside the polling place at any time.
NOTE: Any number of people may stand OUTSIDE the polling place. Anyone engaged in partisan political activity, however, must stand at least ten (10) feet from the entrance of the polling place.
COURT EMPLOYEES: A court rule approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court prohibits all Court employees from engaging in partisan political activities. However, ballot referenda are not partisan, so Court employees may work at the polls to support or oppose a ballot question (provided they hand out materials at least ten (10) feet from the polling place entrance).
CITY & COUNTY EMPLOYEES: The Reading Home Rule Charter forbids MOST City employees from engaging in partisan political activities during working hours. Such individuals, therefore, may legally campaign for candidates on election day, a City government holiday. Similar to Court employees, County or City employees may also campaign for or against a ballot question as long as they remain at least ten (10) feet from the entrance to the polling place.