New redistricting boundaries have entered the vortex of confusion surrounding the March 18 special election to fill Mike Waugh's 28th Senate District seat.
Some voters who might think they're part of the district won't be able to vote in the hotly contested race, and the York County Department of Elections & Voter Registration has been taking calls from confused voters.
"People are wondering why they're not able to participate, and I have to explain about the redistricting," said elections director Nikki Suchanic. "I think people feel that since the special election is being held to fill (Waugh's) remaining term, they should be able to vote because they voted for him for the original term that hasn't ended yet."
But the special election has called attention to an unusual election-year scenario caused by the years-long legal process behind the state's 10-year redistricting. The new maps, written to reflect population changes, should have gone into effect for the 2012 elections. But charges of gerrymandering and legal challenges to the maps resulted in rewrites and a delay in the process.
While local legislators have been conducting business as if the old maps are still in effect, their district boundaries changed after the Supreme Court finally ruled to approve new maps last year.
"Technically, and technically is a key word here, technically the new maps take effect when they are approved," said Ron Ruman, press secretary at the Department of State.
The impact: That means the new district boundaries are in effect for the special election. Voters in municipalities that were previously in the 28th — East Manchester, Jackson, Penn and West Manheim townships and the boroughs of Hanover, Manchester and Mount Wolf — will not be able to cast ballots.
And voters in municipalities that weren't previously in the 28th but have been added under the new boundaries — Chanceford, Heidelberg, Lower Chanceford, Lower Windsor and Paradise townships and the boroughs of East Prospect, Hallam and Yorkana — will be able to vote.
The changes represent thousands of voters, Suchanic said.
"Some precincts are no longer in the 28th and others are moving in. I can see where people would be confused because the person representing them will be representing the new district," she said.
For now: The delay in map approval has highlighted a temporary period of uncertainty that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, Ruman said.
"It does not impact anyone in the practical sense unless there is an election such as this," he said.
"Technically," many residents in the old 28th are now part of the territories of Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, or Rich Alloway, R-Adams, Franklin and York counties, Ruman said.
But the old representatives and senators will continue to help their former constituents until Nov. 30, when the session ends, Ruman said.
"They can call Folmer or they can call whomever wins (the special election), Ruman said. "I would expect, anyway, that person wouldn't say, 'You're not in the district and I'm not going to help you.'"
Folmer, who is running for re-election this year, said Monday that he hasn't received any calls from York constituents.
"People are so confused," he said. "I'm the unknown candidate because everyone is focused on the special election."
Folmer's York territory includes Springettsbury, East Manchester, Newberry and Conewago townships and the boroughs of Mount Wolf, York Haven, Goldsboro, Lewisberry, and Manchester.
House representatives can also continue to address issues of those who are former constituents, Ruman said. For example, some Yorkers who were previously represented by Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, or Will Tallman, R-Adams/York, are now "technically" represented by a Democrat named Ed Nielson in northeast Philadelphia. The district is moving to York County under redistricting, but a local representative won't be elected until November.
Nielson had not returned a call for comment by press time.
Grove said he's still representing his old district, as are most of his colleagues.
"It makes no sense for us to act like we're in our new districts until after the election," he said. "It's just a weird situation when you have a special election."
Other confusion: York County Republican Committee Chairman Bob Wilson said he has heard more confusion about the difference between the special election and the primary than he has about the boundary change.
The special election will fill the seat through the end of the Nov. 30 session. The primary will determine who is forwarded to the ballot for the November election, which will determine who fills the Senate seat for a full four-year term.
The 28th Senate District, under the new maps being used for the special election, includes Chanceford, Codorus, East Hopewell, Fawn, Heidelberg, Hellam, Hopewell, Lower Chanceford, Lower Windsor, Manchester, Manheim, North Codorus, North Hopewell, Paradise, Peach Bottom, Shrewsbury, Spring Garden, Springfield, West Manchester, Windsor and York townships and Cross Roads, Dallastown, Delta, East Prospect, Fawn Grove, Felton, Glen Rock, Hallam, Jacobus, Jefferson, Loganville, New Freedom, New Salem, North York, Railroad, Red Lion, Seven Valleys, Shrewsbury, Spring Grove, Stewartstown, West York, Windsor, Winterstown, Wrightsville, Yoe and Yorkana boroughs, as well as all of York City.
— Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.