Bucks County Herald

As dynasty ends, so too goes the polling location

BIRGITTA WOLFE

Elections have consequences.

Some create national aftershocks that leave irreconcilable fissures in the political landscape.

Others create small rumblings heard only in local neighborhood voting districts.

Such was case in Carversville - Lumberville in November when Democrat newcomer Douglas Shaw defeated Republican incumbent J. Walter Livezey III by 55 votes for the district’s judge of elections position.

The Livezey family had held that slot for 56 years.

And no one was more surprised by the win than Democrat Shaw.

“I didn’t have high prospects, frankly,” the Carversville resident said.

But the statistics were in his favor. County records show the district, Solebury Upper, had 549 non-voting Republicans in that election compared to only 375 non-voting Democrats out of 1,941 registered voters.

As for Livezey, “it’s been a privilege to be able to do this,” he said, but gave an emphatic “Nope!” when asked if he plans to run again in four years.

“It broke a family tradition after 56 years,” said the 62-year-old Carversville resident.

That tradition started with his father, J. Walter Livezey Jr., who served until the mid-1960s when he had to step down on being elected to the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors. He suggested his brother, Blair, run for the post, which he did and served until 2009.

Livezey III clearly remembers helping his uncle -- at no pay -- with “cranking up the voting machines and pushing levers” and generally helping him out.

When Blair died in September 2009 it was suggested that Livezey III run, but it was too late to get on the ballot, so he had to run as a write-in.

“I got eight votes,” he recalled, and he won.

Originally, the Solebury Upper district voted at the Carversville Odd Fellows Lodge on Carversville Road, now the office of dentist Howard Barsky.

But then the powers-that-be deemed that polling places must be handicapped accessible and have other amenities, so in the mid-1970s Livezey Jr. asked his church, the Carversville Christian Church on Aquetong Road, to serve as a polling place, said Livezey III.

And the Solebury Upper polling place has been there ever since -- until now, that is.

Brad Livezey, the son of Livezey Jr. and chairman of the church board of trustees, said, “We have been trying to get it (the polling place) moved out for 10 years.”

The problem, he explained, was having to direct voter traffic, putting out cones, cleaning up, cars driving through the adjacent cemetery and parking on the grass.

This January the church trustees sent a letter to the Bucks County Board of Elections stating the church would no longer provide space.

So with the May 15 primaries looming, the hunt is on for a new polling place for the Solebury Upper district.

And prospects are looking up, according to the newly elected District Judge of Elections Shaw, because the Lumberville General Store on River Road has offered space.

“They’re game,” Shaw said. “They’re willing.”

Two board of elections officials came out to look at the site in January to see if it was handicapped accessible, had rest rooms, parking and enough space, he said.

Next, input will be sought from the Solebury Democrat and Republican organizations and a report will be made by Bucks County Board of Elections Director Deena Dean. Finally, a vote by the Bucks County commissioners would make it official.

If that happens, voters will be notified by mail of the new location and the citizens of the Solebury Upper district will find their way to the polls as they always have.

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