Pleasant Unity voters sort through redistricting
More than 800 voters were eligible to cast ballots Tuesday at the Pleasant Unity Volunteer Fire Hall, but few knew before they walked through the doors which U.S. congressional race they would help to decide.
A recently redrawn map split the small, rural precinct in Unity Township between two districts. It includes the 14th District, with the western portion of Westmoreland County as well as all of Fayette, Washington and Greene counties; and the 13th District, which stretches from eastern Westmoreland County through 10 counties for more than 150 miles.
“I found out when I went to vote,” Mike Ferlin said after he cast a ballot in the 13th District.
Pleasant Unity is the county's lone precinct divided between congressional regions.
According to the county Elections Bureau, the Pleasant Unity precinct has 846 eligible voters: 620 in the 14th District, and 226 in the 13th District.
Voter turnout at the fire hall was slow for most of the day, according to judge of elections Chris Dreistadt.
“Some people know, but most don't know what district they are in. It wasn't explained well to the public,” Dreistadt said.
The county gave poll workers detailed lists with the names of each voter and his or her district. Because Pleasant Unity is such a tight-knit community, poll workers pretty much knew who lived in what district, Dreistadt said.
Two voting machines were used. Both were equipped with ballots for each race. Voters were given a blue card for the 14th District and an orange one for the 13th District. Poll workers manually set the machines for each voter.
John Bacha said he spent some time on his computer Monday night trying to determine which candidates he would be voting for.
“I didn't know until I came here today,” Bacha said. “I had to make sure what was happening in both districts.”
The divided precinct left many, including Ferlin, scratching their heads.
“I just can't believe how they split this township apart,” Ferlin said. “It's beyond me. This year has been a bit crazy.”
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.