Column | Current ward system in Conshohocken not evenly proportioned. New apartments to lead to greater imbalance

In the 2021 general election, there were 6,548 registered voters in the Borough of Conshohocken. The borough’s seven wards all have one elected council member. However, the wards are in a state of imbalance when it comes to how many registered voters live in each ward. This in turn is a reflection of the number of overall residents each council member represents.

Prior to the recent election, Montgomery County published a booklet that provided a breakdown of the number of registered voters in the county, along with details on each municipality down to the ward or precinct level. Below are the numbers for the Borough of Conshohocken.

Ward 1 – 1,356 (west side)
Ward 2 – 292 (east side)
Ward 3 – 1,434 (east side)
Ward 4 – 1,132 (west side)
Ward 5 – 844 (east side)
Ward 6 – 799 (west side)
Ward 7 – 691 (east side)
Total East – 3,261
Total West – 3,287

Ward 2 is the most glaring example of the imbalance. With just 292 registered voters, compared to the 1,434 in Ward 4, Ward 2 is grossly overrepresented on the borough council. Ward 4 is greatly underrepresented on the borough council.

Things are also about to get even more imbalanced under the current system. As reported, in the next few years, there will be 928 new apartments completed within Ward 1 of the borough. In Ward 3, there will be approximately 500 new apartments (the apartment community will have 598 units, but a small percentage will fall in Whitemarsh Township).

The 928 new apartments in Ward 1 could drive the number of registered voters to almost 2,300. Ward 3 could see its registered voter rolls grow to over 1,900.

With everything staying the same besides the apartments, the new numbers for registered voters within the next five years could look like this:

Ward 1 – 2,300 (west side) (estimate)
Ward 2 – 292 (east side) (current number)
Ward 3 – 1,900 (east side) (estimate)
Ward 4 – 1,132 (west side) (current number)
Ward 5 – 844 (east side) (current number)
Ward 6 – 799 (west side) (current number)
Ward 7 – 691 (east side) (current number)
Total East – 3,727
Total West – 4,231

So the purpose of this column is to just get people thinking about this issue. And it is an issue. For example, the law governing boroughs does not allow for the creation of a new ward with less than 300 registered voters. So Ward 2 wouldn’t qualify as a new ward today if it there was an effort to create it.

There is also this paragraph in the code regarding the composition of wards:

All wards in the borough shall be numbered and composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable as officially and finally reported in the latest official census.

In the coming weeks we will report on the process that is available to boroughs to amend its ward system.

Let us know in the comments how you think the borough should be divided politically.