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Simpson Voting House's role in election unsure

| Saturday, June 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Voting at the century-old Simpson Voting House in Derry Township appears to be no more.

County officials said Friday the historic one-room clapboard building that was relocated as part of a reclamation project cannot be used to host elections.

“To actually open it up as a polling place may not fly,” Commissioner Charles Anderson said.

Officials said the building is too small to accommodate voters, computers, election staff and other supplies needed for an election.

After being used for elections for about 100 years, the historic voting house was shuttered in 2004 by county officials, who said it is outdated and lacks modern restrooms and facilities for voters with physical handicaps.

Two years ago, the county, with the help of the Derry Area Historical Society, initiated a plan to restore the structure for voting.

The county moved it on the back of a flatbed truck from its former site between Route 22 and the Pittsburgh Raceway to county-owned property a mile east on Route 22.

The county spent more than $15,000 to relocate the building, restore the structure and upgrade its amenities. Electricity was installed and an attempt was made to make the facility handicapped accessible.

In February, commissioners pulled $15,000 in additional funding for the project, noting budget constraints. That money would have been used to finish plumbing work and complete a parking lot in front of the building.

Although voting at Simpson House won't happen this November, a state inspector will be called out to view the building before a final determination is made as to whether the building can ever be used again for voting, Anderson said.

Derry Area Historical Society President Patrick Showalter said he was disappointed with the county's position.

“We figured it was worth a shot. Lobbying will now have to be done by the Simpson voting district residents themselves,” Showalter said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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