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County moving 10 poll locations

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County plans to move 10 polls for the November election.

The county Board of Elections approved the changes Wednesday.

Most of the changes reflect efforts to help lessen the potential for COVID-19 exposure.

Solicitor Nathan Karn, who advises the county elections board, said the law requires polling locations to be identified at least 20 days before an election, except during an emergency. He said he believes the coronavirus pandemic qualifies as an emergency.

The list of polling places for Nov. 3, to be published later this month in the Altoona Mirror, will reflect changes approved Wednesday and possibly one more if needed, Director of Elections Sarah Seymour said.

Finding new voting locations is not as easy as “just pointing to a location,” Karn said. The location has to be available and meet several requirements, including accessibility for those with handicaps.

Changes approved Wednesday include:

ö Altoona 2nd Ward, 2nd Precinct: Ballots will be cast at the Altoona Firehall 3, 530 Crawford Ave., instead of The ARC of Blair County building.

ö Altoona 4th Ward, 1st Precinct: Ballots will be cast at the Center City Church, 801 Pleasant Valley Blvd., instead of the Altoona Area High School auditorium.

ö Altoona 6th Ward, 4th Precinct: Ballots will be cast at the Altoona Bible Church, 3017 Union Ave., instead of the Jaggard United Methodist Church.

ö Altoona 8th Ward, 2nd Precinct: Ballots will be cast at the Trans4mation Church, 1001 S. First St., instead of The ARC of Blair County building.

ö Altoona 14th Ward, 1st Precinct: Ballots will be cast at the Altoona Bible Church, 3017 Union. Ave., instead of Woodrow Wilson Gardens.

ö Freedom Township 1st District: Ballots will be cast at the Freedom Township Volunteer Firehall, 139 Municipal St., East Freedom, instead of the Blue Knob Airport.

ö Hollidaysburg Ward 5: Ballots will be cast at St. Mary Church Social Hall, 312 Clark St., Hollidaysburg, instead of The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg.

ö Hollidaysburg Ward 7: Ballots will be cast at the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library, 1 Furnace St., Hollidaysburg, instead of the Blair Regional YMCA (if the YMCA has day care that day).

ö North Woodbury Township: Ballots will be cast at Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, 2585 Cove Mountain Road, Martinsburg, instead of Homewood at Martinsburg.

ö Tyrone Ward 5: Ballots will be cast at Church of the Good Shepherd, 1650 Clay Ave., Tyrone, instead of Epworth Manor.

Notices of new voting locations are to be posted at the former voting locations.

Seymour also advised the elections board — chaired by Commissioner Amy Webster, with commissioners Laura Burke and Bruce Erb — that those staffing the polls are being advised to limit the number of voters inside a voting room, reflecting social distancing guidelines. That could mean some voters will need to wait, or that they may need to wait outside.

“We will ask for the voters’ patience,” Seymour said. “There will be less space available to mark ballots as we try to keep voters six feet apart.”

Applying for a mailed ballot remains an option through Oct. 27 with applications available at www.votespa.com. So far, the county has processed 17,498 applications for mailed ballots and initiated distribution last week.

Seymour also said Wednesday that the county’s voter registration office, in the basement of the courthouse, remains open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. She said voters are permitted to drop off their own ballots at the voter registration office. Any voter who hasn’t applied for a mail-in ballot can stop at the voter registration office and complete an application, vote at the counter and turn in the ballot.

Seymour said this year’s election has prompted a lot of telephone calls to her office, which added staff in preparation for the additional work.

“Please know we are answering phone calls but there are more calls than employees to answer the phones,” she said.

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