Dauphin County elections office relocating to larger facility in 2021

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Dauphin County Commissioners approved plans to relocate the Elections & Voter Registration office to Swatara Township by early next year.

The expected February 2021 move from the Administration Building in downtown Harrisburg to the two-level former county Area Agency on Aging kitchen at 1251 S. 28th St. more than doubles the election office’s current space.

“This will be our one-stop shop for elections,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries, who oversees the office. “We needed more space to count the increasing number of mail-in ballots and store new election equipment.”

As part of the anticipated $600,000 renovation, the county is installing a new HVAC system with improved filters designed to protect against airborne COVID-19 droplets. The move and renovation were anticipated as part of a $30 million bond issue passed earlier this year, focusing on needed improvements to numerous county buildings.

“We initially tried selling the kitchen building when we outsourced Meals on Wheels preparation in 2014 and didn’t have any buyers,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste. “At the time, nobody knew the state would be mandating massive election changes, not only forcing us to buy a new voting system but also increasing the number of employees we need to handle elections.’’

The June primary election required nearly 20 additional people to help verify and count mail-in and absentee ballots.

The commissioners said they are reviewing the needs of other county offices to determine how to best use the almost 2,100-square-feet now occupied by the election office.

“Because this board has carefully managed and paid down county debt, we can respond to the need within our current budget,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III. “That said, the needs of some of our most vulnerable residents continue to increase, and we hope we can get state and federal help for these election-related costs.’’

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