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Polling Locations

Polling Locations

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

The Election Board consists of five officials: Judge of Election, Majority Inspector, Minority Inspector, Clerk, and Machine Inspector. All five should reside in the division where the polling place is located. The Judge of Election, Majority Inspector, and Minority Inspector are ELECTED to four-year terms. The current officials were selected in November 2021. The Clerk is appointed by the Minority Inspector, and the Machine Inspector is appointed by the County Board of Elections.

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.
No. Although the Election Code attempts to create a bipartisan board, this is not mandated. Generally, the Judge of Election and Majority Inspector are from one party, and the Minority Inspector and Clerk are from the other party. (The Machine Inspector gives one side a three-to-two majority.) However, last minute vacancies, and the unavailability of volunteers, often hinder the creation of a bipartisan board.
From 6:30 a.m. until the polls open: members of the election board and all people with watchers' certificates. Candidates are allowed two watchers per polling place; political parties and bodies are allowed three watchers per polling place. Candidates and Committeepeople are not allowed inside the polling place unless they have watchers' certificates.

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.
Yes. For example, a person may be the Judge of Election and a Committee person. However, that person may not engage in any partisan political activities from 6:30 in the morning until the polls close. On election day, the individual must fulfill his or her responsibilities as a member of the election board and must act in a strictly nonpartisan manner. Furthermore, that person may not "take breaks" to perform the various duties of Committeepeople (for example, gathering voters and campaigning for candidates).
No. The Pennsylvania Election Code and the Constitution of Pennsylvania provides that County, City and court employees are ineligible to serve as polling place officials.
It depends.

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.