LIVE COVERAGE: Election Day 2020 in Pennsylvania

Signs outside the only polling place in New Alexandria, Pa., Westmoreland County (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

All day this Election Day, the Capital-Star will have reporters across the state, bringing you the very latest on the 2020 general election. Keep checking back here today for continuous updates from our staff, social media posts from the campaigns, material submitted by readers, and other stuff that catches our eye.

If you’re headed out to vote today, here’s our guide to how to cast your ballot in-person. And our map of voting locations across the state. And this is how county officials will be counting the ballot in your home county. 

If you’re still making up your mind, you can check out our candidates’ guide here.

Live Feed

3 weeks ago

11:40 pm

Boockvar addresses Pa. GOPs call for her resignation with a call of her own

By: Cassie Miller

HARRISBURG — Speaking to reporters late Tuesday night, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar addressed a release from the state’s Republican party calling for her resignation over changes to election guidances issued by the Department of State. 

“I have no intent to resign,” Boockvar said. “I disagree with everything they say in their release.”

“Frankly, I think you’re the ones that should resign,” Boockvar said of the Republicans calling for her dismissal. She added that they should resign for not allowing Pennsylvania to pre-canvas early “as 46 other states across the country had done.”

Boockvar said the department received a letter from Lancaster County officials, Tuesday, alleging similar claims. 

“They completely misread the guidance,” Boockvar said. 

She accused the Republicans of not wanting to count the ballots. 

“They don’t like anything that allows more eligible voters to be enfranchised,” Boockvar said.

Boockvar clarified that the first guidance was issued when the petition was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court back in October. 

https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/new-federal-lawsuit-challenges-extended-deadline-for-mailed-ballots/

She said the first guidance told officials not to act until a second guidance was issued by the department. 

“We didn’t know if the court was going to take action,” Boockvar said. 

Ultimately, the department issued a second guidance following the Supreme Court’s decision not to weigh in on the matter.

https://www.penncapital-star.com/blog/u-s-supreme-court-turns-down-pa-republicans-request-to-halt-extended-ballot-deadline-report/

 

3 weeks ago

10:46 pm

An update from Philadelphia on ballot counting

By: Shayma Musa

3 weeks ago

10:34 pm

GOP state Senate leaders call on Pa. elections chief Boockvar to resign

By: Elizabeth Hardison

In a 10 p.m. statement, Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania state Senate called for Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s resignation. They say the election guidance she’s issued to counties contradicts state law, as well as her own arguments in state and federal court.

 

3 weeks ago

10:14 pm

‘Take a deep breath,’ Wolf says as Pa. counts ballots

By: Cassie Miller

HARRISBURG — One hour after polls closed on Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar provided an update on how Election Day went across the commonwealth. 

Election Day “went remarkably well,” Boockvar said, adding that no widespread voting issues were reported to the Department. 

Although no widespread issues hindered voting, Boockvar said DOS saw “run of the mill” issues such as long lines at polling stations. 

Boockvar said the Department of State also received more than 5,000 calls to its election hotline. Most of the reports, she noted, were about long lines, late poll openings and instances of voter intimidation. 

On the latter, Boockvar said that local officials were able to resolve the issues. She added that there were no reports of violence at any of the state’s 9,235 polling precincts. 

Boockvar said that more than 253,000 mail-in ballots were returned by voters – an 83 percent return rate. 

Wolf encouraged Pennsylvanians to be patient, adding that election results may not come in Tuesday night. 

“Counting that tremendous number of ballots, again, will take longer than we’re used to,” Wolf said. “But the extra time is just there because we want to make sure that our election system is working and that each and every vote is counted.”

“Take a deep breath,” he said, adding that Pennsylvania will have a fair election. 

“And make no mistake, Wolf said. “We’re going to stand up, as we always have, to anybody who wants to silence the voices of Pennsylvanians who have voted.”

While it hasn’t been needed thus far, Wolf said the state is prepared should unrest follow the election results. 

Wolf and Boockvar will provide another update at 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

Last updated:10:17 pm

3 weeks ago

10:12 pm

67 of 68 election complaints peacefully resolved in Philly, report

By: Special to the Capital-Star

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, 68 election-related complaints were reported to the District Attorney’s Election Task Force and 67 incidents were peacefully resolved.

The vast majority of complaints pertain to alleged interference or electioneering at polling sites.

Most issues involving misunderstandings or miscommunication about voting rules and laws were resolved by Election Task Force prosecutors by phone, and DAO prosecutors and detectives also responded to investigate incidents at polling sites in all six Philadelphia Police divisions. Several incidents will require follow-up by investigators.

The Task Force will continue to be active until election results in Philadelphia County are certified.

Election-related issues can be reported to the task force by calling (215) 686-9641

Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

3 weeks ago

10:03 pm

Republicans sue to block ballots cast by voters who were told that their mail-in votes were in danger of being disqualified

By: Elizabeth Hardison

Republicans candidates in Pennsylvania asked a state court on Tuesday to block election officials from counting ballots cast by voters who were told that their mail-in votes were in danger of being disqualified. 

In a Commonwealth Court petition they brought with four Pennsylvania voters, Republican state House candidate Joseph Hamm and  U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, contend that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar violated state election law when her agency told counties they could enlist campaign representatives in their efforts to notify voters of problems with their mail-in ballots. 

Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania can be disqualified if they don’t have a voter signature, or if they aren’t enclosed in a secrecy envelope. The state faced federal lawsuits this year after counties disqualified ballots without giving voters the opportunity to remedy them. 

Boockvar’s deputy secretary told counties on Monday that if they found problems with mail-in ballots during pre-canvasing – the stage when ballots are prepared for counting – they could notify a political party to help “facilitate communication” with the voters so they could fix them. 

The email reminded county election directors that voters with problematic mail-in ballots could also vote by provisional ballot on Election Day.

The Republican plaintiffs say the instructions conflict with a provision in state election law, which bars election workers and campaign representatives from disclosing details about pre-canvassing before polls close on election night. 

It’s unclear how many ballots could be disqualified if a judge grants their request.

Boockvar declined to comment on the litigation at a media briefing Tuesday night, but said her agency “completely disputes” the claims Hamm and Kelly raised. 

“We don’t think we broke the law,” she said. 

3 weeks ago

8:43 pm

‘We must count every vote’: Pa. Att’y Gen Shapiro says as polls close

By: John L. Micek

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who’s busy waging his own re-election fight against Republican Heather Heidelbaugh this Election Day, says his office is committed to protecting Pennsylvanians’ ballots if they face what seems like an inevitable court challenge.

“People all across Pennsylvania have voted — from Aliquippa to Philadelphia — and their votes deserve to be counted and their voices deserve to be heard,” Shapiro said in a statement his office released on Tuesday night. “Our poll workers, volunteers, and public servants in communities across the Commonwealth have worked hard to protect and count these votes. As the people’s lawyer, I’m committed to making sure they can do their work and that the will of the people will be respected. We must count every vote.”

3 weeks ago

6:55 pm

Election officials in Erie Co. say turn out has been ‘higher than expected’

By: Shayma Musa

3 weeks ago

6:49 pm

Another pandemic casualty: The end of dinner rush at the polls?

By: John L. Micek

CAMP HILL, Pa. — At 6 p.m. at any other election night, there’s supposed to be a crush of voters; people coming home from work, squeezing in a few minutes to vote before the pressure of evening routines devours whatever free time is left in the day.

But this is 2020.

The scene — or lack of it — outside Borough Hall in Camp Hill, Pa. (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Outside borough hall here, two hours before the polls closed in the most consequential election in recent memory, election volunteers outnumbered actual voters by about four to one. About a quarter-mile away, outside the Cleve J. Fredericksen Library, it was the same scene.

Democratic volunteers, who said they’d voted around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, said they’d faced a crush of in-person voters waiting to cast their ballots. But by the dinner hour, between that crush and a flood of mail-in ballots, it was entirely possible that everyone who wanted to vote had already voted, they said.

“There’s just not that many people left to vote,” one Democratic volunteer said outside borough hall.

Last updated:6:49 pm

3 weeks ago

6:38 pm

American racism is ‘an issue of sin, not politics’: Welcome to the changing face of Cumberland County

By: Stephen Caruso

CARLISLE, Pa. — Among the newest political battlefields in Pennsylvania is Cumberland County.

The area was once solidly Republican. But the creep of development into once rural fields around Pennsylvania’s capital has led Democrats to make inroads. Gov. Tom Wolf flipped it blue in his 2018 reelection romp.

One of the most Democratic areas of the county is the college town of Carlisle. Around 5 p.m., one polling station in the northern part of the city, at the Stuart Community Center, reported at least 800 people had voted out of 2,500 voters, or roughly 30 percent turnout. 

That’s without mail-in ballots, and before more voters headed to the polls after work.

Many of the voters coming as dusk fell said they voted straight ticket Democrat. Lea Potteiger, 27, said she mostly votes in presidential years. This year, she backed Biden because he can speak up “for those who don’t have a voice.”

Jerry Stirkey, 42, said he voted straight Democratic because of his disdain for Trump.

“The vitriol and nastiness in this country is over the top, and it starts at the head,” Stirkey, who is Black, said referencing Trump.

He also wanted to see the country get the pandemic under control.

But the votes at the precinct weren’t uniformly blue. Sophia Bassett, 51, left the polling place before plucking a lolly pop from the Republicans table outside the community center.

Bassett, who is also Black, said she voted for Trump “for the country.” She trusted him on the economy, and thought he deserved to finish what he started.

Bassett, who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, said neither candidate was perfect, but was turned off by Biden telling Black voters in May that “you ain’t Black” if you are undecided in 2020.

And while Trump may have had his share of racist comments, Bassett thought it reflected on America, not the president.

“The race issue is on us as Americans. It is an issue of sin, not politics,” she told the Capital-Star.

3 weeks ago

5:23 pm

These are your election night rituals and self-care routines

By: John L. Micek

A bit earlier this evening, I asked my Twitter followers for their election night rituals — their favorite music, favorite foods, or superstitions that helped get them through the long night after the polls close and the results roll in.

Here’s what you had to say:

 

3 weeks ago

5:22 pm

Voters concerned about police presence, language access

By: Cassie Miller

3 weeks ago

5:02 pm

USPS officials ordered to search Pa. processing center for ballots

By: Elizabeth Hardison

3 weeks ago

4:24 pm

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick gets some help from friends in high places

By: John L. Micek

As we’ve reported before, the fight for Bucks County’s 1st Congressional District, between Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Christina Finello, is a must-watch contest.  An Oct. 6 Public Policy poll showed the two candidates running in a statistical dead heat.

And that could explain this high-profile text blast that was sent to Republican voters in the district on Tuesday.

(Screen Capture)

The 1st District, which includes Bucks and Montgomery counties, has been in Republican hands for a decade. The last Democrat to hold the seat was former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who went on to become an Obama administration official.

Last updated:4:27 pm

3 weeks ago

4:11 pm

Meanwhile, in Montgomery County

By: John L. Micek

Reporter Jarrett Renshaw, of Reuters, reports:

3 weeks ago

4:06 pm

In Erie, pro-Trump fliers greet local Catholics

By: Shayma Musa

3 weeks ago

3:23 pm

At the polls, Philly residents are ‘voting with a purpose,’ U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans says

By: Special to the Capital-Star

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. Rep Dwight Evans, D3rd District, says he’s observed that Philadelphia voters are enthusiastic about this election.

“They are voting with a purpose,” he said during an election update held Tuesday afternoon at Relish Restaurant in West Oak Lane.

The restaurant traditionally hosts an Election Day luncheon that draws community members and leaders from the African American community, however the event was held virtually this year due to the coronavirus.

Evans said Vice President Joe Biden has demonstrated the leadership that the country needs.

“When you think about it, it’s important to understand what Vice President Biden means at this particular point,” said Evans, who is up for re-election. “He has demonstrated throughout the campaign the importance of bringing people together.”

Evans said issues such as character, behavior, community development, criminal justice and social justice on the ballot.

“All of these issues are on ballot and our democracy is on the ballot,” he said.

Evans spent the morning visiting polling places in Northwest Philadelphia, South Philadelphia and Wynnefield. He started out by visiting Finley Playground in Northwest Philadelphia where he observed 100 people waiting in line at 7 a.m.

The congressman said everyone was cooperative at all the polling places he visited and he didn’t see any instances of voter intimidation.

“I just saw people that were focused,” Evans says of the voters he observed.

“People understand what is on the line. They understand that democracy is on the line. They understand that they need a change in the White House.”

“These people are very much determined to make a change,” Evans said.

“Washington is not going to change itself. If Washington doesn’t react, we have to make a change. That’s what I say to the people. It’s simple. If you don’t like what you see. Change it.”

Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared. 

Last updated:3:24 pm

3 weeks ago

3:15 pm

Healthy Ride bike share is offering free rides in Pittsburgh all during Election Day

By: Special to the Capital-Star

By Ryan Deto

PITTSBURGH —  Pittsburgh’s bike share nonprofit Healthy Ride is offering voters an quicker way to get to the polls than walking today. For Election Day, Healthy Ride is offering free rides on their bikes, which are located at stations throughout the city of Pittsburgh.

(Photo by Ryan Deto for Pittsburgh City Paper)

Riders just need to have an active Healthy Ride account, and then need to get a voucher by entering VOTE2020 on the nextbike app or at HealthyRidePGH.com.

And while Healthy Ride has been expanding stations, the nonprofit also understands they aren’t everywhere and it’s likely there won’t be a station to park your bike near your polling place. But Healthy Ride says to just park and lock the bike near your polling place and since the ride is free, there are no concerns about racking up charges.

“Not a Healthy Ride station near your polling place? No worries,” reads the Healthy Ride website. “You can temporarily park your bike using the cable lock while you’re fulfilling your civic duty. The bike will still be on your account and unavailable to other riders, but with a Free Ride Day, you won’t be charged for any of it.”

Here is more information on how to create an account and get an Election Day voucher:

If you don’t already have a Healthy Ride account, create one on its website, the nextbike mobile app, or call Healthy Ride Customer Support team 412-535-5189. Once you have your account set up, apply the voucher code:

Via nextbike app:
Log-in to your Healthy Ride account
Enter your Account Settings via the navigation bars
Click Redeem Voucher
Enter VOTE2020, and click redeem voucher

3 weeks ago

3:07 pm

Biden in Philadelphia

By: Rjaa Ahmed

Last updated:3:08 pm

3 weeks ago

2:57 pm

The scene outside Philadelphia City Hall

By: Michala Butler

City hall is currently open for people to turn in their absentee ballots. There was a line outside the building of about 30 voters at mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

In front of City Hall, the “Joy to the Polls” bus was stationed playing music for the crowd of people. There was also volunteers handing out free pizza and water to voters.Gerald Trotman traveled from Brooklyn, NY with his girlfriend who is singing on the Joy to the Polls bus with the Resistance to Revival Chorus.

Trotman voted weeks ago by mailing in his ballot, but emphasized his anxiety about the results of the election.

“The country is so polarized and people have decided who they are going to vote for,” Trotman said. “After the results in 2016, I just do not know what is going to happen and how the public is going to respond.”

Nancy, a Philadelphia resident who turned in her ballot at city hall today, mentioned that she was worried for how long we will have to wait to hear the results of the election. She declined to give her last name.

She also said that she had been volunteering at a Democratic National Committee phone bank.

“I would say about 84 percent of Philadelphia voters will vote blue,” Nancy said. “However, I have not seen super long lines throughout the city today. Hopefully this means people voted early or by mail.”Nancy stated that voter turnout among young people is crucial for Pennsylvania.

3 weeks ago

2:07 pm

NBC News finds Pa. voters are the target of largest online voter misinformation effort

By: Kenny Cooper

According to a report from NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny, Pennsylvania has seen the largest share of online voter misinformation than any other state which amounts to more than 225,000 false voting information mentions over the past two months. 

The blog post also details how Pennsylvania’s position as a battleground state has positioned itself as a target for a conservative influencer led misinformation effort.

Zadrozny recently was the target of an alleged Fox News led campaign to ‘smear’ her work after Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, criticized the NBC News journalist during a segment.

3 weeks ago

2:00 pm

 All Eyes on Erie: Why the NWPA county holds pivotal status for 2020 presidential election

By: Hannah McDonald

ERIE, Pa. —  Erie County, and its 149 polling places, have been in the national spotlight for weeks now, dubbed a potential battle ground for the national election. And no one seems to know which way the county (which voted blue in 2012 and red in 2016) will swing.

From Fox News to the Washington Post, all eyes are on Erie. 

ERIE, Pa. — Democratic state Senate candidate Julie Slomski stands outside a polling location in Erie County’s 13th Precinct with republican supporter and friend, Gretchen Johnson (Capital-Star photo by Hannah McDonald)

The NWPA county is one of three pivotal counties in the commonwealth that have a potential to go blue or red this year, according to Ballotpedia. Erie is home to 202,684 registered voters as of Nov. 2, according to Pennsylvania Department of State

This includes: 74,620 registered Republican voters, 98,969 registered Democrats, 19,150 voters with no party affiliation, and 9,945 “other voters.”

But in this pivotal county the excitement from both parties is palpable, and their predictions for the outcome of the presidential race are wide.

“It’s very divided,” said Cory DiLoreto, an Erie County voter. 

He stood outside Tracy Elementary School in Erie’s 13th Precinct campaigning for state Rep. Ryan Bizzaro, D-Erie, who is running for a third term in the state House against write-in Republican Greg Hayes. 

DiLoreto spent his morning outside in the crisp, sunny air, talking to voters as they came and went from the polling location. 

Cindy Purvis of the Erie County Democratic party prepares to help deliver lunches to Election Day volunteers around Erie County (Capital-Star photo by Hannah McDonald)

Based on  his discussions with Erie voters, DiLoreto told the Capital-Star that the community is: “very divided. Democrats are voting for Republicans, Republicans are voting for Democrats. It’s very surprising.” 

From what he has heard though, “A lot of people are voting for [President Donald] Trump. And I think he has a really solid chance of retaining his presidency.”

Still, “some people don’t even know who they’re voting for yet,” DiLoreto continued.

DiLoreto is one of those undecided voters. He planned to cast his vote at noon after his shift was over, but when the Capital-Star spoke to him at 10:15 a.m. on Nov. 3 he said, “For president, honestly I don’t know who I’m going to vote for either. I’m still thinking about that, but locally, I know.”

The presidential race isn’t the only race to keep an eye on in Erie County.

Additionally, first-time candidate Kristy Gnibus, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, of Butler County, in the race for the 16th Congressional District. 

In the Erie-based 49th Senate District, Democrat Julie Slomski, faces off against Republican incumbent state Sen. Dan Laughlin. 

Slomski’s prediction, she told the Capital-Star, is that, “the blue wave is coming.” 

She continued: “We love having all the eyes on us. We have folks calling today from across the country. We have folks that came in from Oregon to help us out today and they’re out in the neighborhood getting out the vote, especially in those key precincts.” 

“People in line are so excited, they’re winking, nodding their heads, giving the thumbs up, quietly trying to say that they’re with us,” Slomski told the Capital-Star, “But everywhere we turn our heads that blue wave is strong.” 

On Monday, Lisa Adams for Erie News Now reported that “nearly 58,000 mail-in ballots requested in Erie County, well over 42,000 have already been returned and voters continued to drop ballots in the drop box at the Erie County Courthouse over the weekend.”

And in-person voting seems to be going smoothly, more of less, according to Cindy Purvis, the First Vice Chair to the Erie County Democratic Party.

“Well, I mean, this morning we were so blessed,” Purvis told the Capital-Star, just after 12 p.m.  on Election Day. 

“Yes there were glitches, there are always glitches, but we have enough people to handle everything,” Purvis continued. “We have a hotline set up. People called us. We had attorneys set up, and we were able to handle the problems as they were arising. That’s always a big help.”

The county of nearly 300,000 residents has received national attention due to its pivotal status, as well as the attention presidential candidates have placed on the rust belt community. 

During  the final weeks of the 2020 election season Erie welcomed visits from former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump, current Vice President Mike Pence and Jill Biden, who visited just hours before Election Day.

In Erie County, election workers began counting mail-in and absentee ballots on the morning of Nov. 3. In-person polling locations close at 8 p.m. 

3 weeks ago

1:51 pm

Meet then ticket-splitters of Cambria County

By: Stephen Caruso

 

3 weeks ago

1:45 pm

Regarding mail-ins in Lancaster County

By: Cassie Miller

3 weeks ago

1:32 pm

Still need to deliver your mail-in ballot? Find an Election Day delivery site here

By: Elizabeth Hardison

Voters have until 8 p.m. on election night to deliver mail-in ballots to their county election offices. 

If you haven’t delivered yours, do not put it in the mail. 

Deliver it in person to your county election office, or to a secure drop box or satellite voting site your county is operating today. Our map of ballot delivery sites shows which ones are open on Election Day. Many county offices are running extended hours so they’ll stay open until 8 p.m., but we recommend verifying hours and locations before embarking on a delivery. 

These sites have a hard and fast deadline of 8 p.m. on Tuesday night. If you’re standing in line when they close, you’ll likely be turned away – unlike voters who are in line at polling places, those in line at drop boxes aren’t entitled under state law to finish casting their vote after polls close.

Approved mail-in voters are allowed to vote in person if they forfeit their mail-in ballot at your polling place. If you lost or never received it, you’ll be allowed to vote at your precinct using a provisional ballot. That ballot will be counted once officials ensure they did not also receive a mail-in ballot with your signature. 

3 weeks ago

12:46 pm

Catching up with voters in Philly

By: Rjaa Ahmed

3 weeks ago

12:32 pm

The Electoral College explained

By: Cassie Miller

3 weeks ago

12:25 pm

In Center City Philadelphia, businesses prepare for the worst

By: Michala Butler

In Center City, the National Guard was at City Hall on Monday. On Tuesday, city police were stationed in front of the building. Along Walnut Street, stores and restaurants have been boarded up in anticipation of looting or rioting in the hours and days after the polls close.

(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler)
(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler)
(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler)

Last updated:12:28 pm

3 weeks ago

12:21 pm

In Philadelphia, Penn, Drexel University students help get out the vote

By: Michala Butler

Students across University City in Philadelphia are are working throughout their campuses to get out the vote.

(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler)

Drexel University and University of  Pennsylvania students have set up stations throughout their campuses with Biden signs, stickers, and voting information.The students directed students and residents to the correct voting precinct.

(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler)
(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler)

City residents have been sporting their Philadelphia “I Voted” stickers through the city.

3 weeks ago

12:08 pm

‘The constitution is at stake’: In a tiny SWPA borough, voters raise their voices

By: Stephen Caruso

NEW ALEXANDRIA, Pa. — A small white building with a war memorial out front is this Westmoreland County borough of 560 people’s only polling place.

By mid-morning on Tuesday, more than 100 people had voted, according to their poll numbers.

The Community Hall in New Alexandria, Pa. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

“That’s really high,” Chris Mateiya, the municipality’s recently retired judge of elections, told the Capital-Star right after voting.

The 65-year-old voted in-person to check in on her successor and to see if they had any questions. Everything was running smoothly, Mateiya said.

She voted for Biden, and other Democrats in the area. Among them is Rep. Joe Petrarca, D-Westmoreland, one of the last of a dying breed of Harrisburg Blue Dogs.

He’s often run unopposed in this district that Trump won with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2016. That same year, Petrarca beat his last challenger 56-44 percent.

Petrarca holding on will be key to Democrats flipping the Pa. House, as they hope for this year. 

But it’s hard to say if high presidential turnout helps or hurts. Most of the voters who came out in a steady trickle said they voted straight Republican.

Jane Parker, 64, who works as a consultant for the insurance industry, said she used to back Democrats, including Petrarca.

He and his family name are a fixture in this area. A Petrarca has represented the district since 1973.

But Parker said as she thinks Democrats will tax her to give free things to undocumented immigrants or people who don’t work, who will set around “drinking mint juleps.”

So, in recent years, including Tuesday , she voted straight-ticket Republican.

“I’m scared to death [Democratic nominee Joe] Biden will get in,” Parker said. She thinks he can only win from fraud.

But ticket splitting may still have some role. Dan Dishond, 56, voted because the “constitution is at stake.” 

He declined to say for whom he voted. But, it included candidates from both parties, because the country needs “some checks and balances.”

Last updated:12:08 pm

3 weeks ago

11:56 am

Pennsylvania reaches 81 percent  of returned mail-in ballots, top election official says

By: Kenny Cooper

Approximately 81 percent  of Pennsylvania’s mail-in and absentee ballots have been returned to the counties, according to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.

“Anyone who has not returned a mail-in ballot should do so now,” Boockvar said. “You should hand deliver it. Do not put it in the mail.” 

Pennsylvania voters have until 8 p.m. to return mail-in ballots to their county election office, satellite election office, or official designated drop box.

“The clock is ticking,” Bockvar said.

Here is the statistical breakdown of Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot situation courtesy the Department of State:

Total number and percentage of Pennsylvania ballots in the process of being mailed 

  • Number of approved applications = 3,098,947
  • Number of ballots confirmed for mailing = 3,082,832
  • Number of returned ballots = 2,506,555

Total number of Pennsylvania mail-in/absentee ballots returned by party affiliation

  • 1,641,826 ballots returned by registered Democrats
  • 586,336 ballots returned by registered Republicans
  • 278,393 ballots returned by other voters
  • 2,506,555 total ballots returned

According to Boockvar, the more than 2.5 million returned ballots is nearly 10 times as many mail-in and absentee ballots returned in 2016. However, she also reminded voters to be wary of naked ballots.

“If a voter learns today through various notifications, whether email or otherwise, that they returned a naked ballot or perhaps forgot to sign their voter declaration, they can still go to the polls today and vote by provisional ballot,” Boockvar said.

Although the polls close at 8 p.m. tonight, Boockvar said voters who are in line as of the deadline have the right to vote.

Last updated:11:59 am

3 weeks ago

11:32 am

Report: Republicans sue Montgomery County over alleged illegal precanvassing

By: John L. Micek

Zoe Tillman, of BuzzFeed News reports:

3 weeks ago

11:00 am

U.S. Justice Department to send staff to monitor polling places in Pa., 17 other states

By: Laura Olson

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Department of Justice will have staffers on the ground in 44 counties and cities across 18 states on Election Day, monitoring for violations of federal voting-rights laws—fewer states than in 2016.

3 weeks ago

10:49 am

Philadelphia businesses board up

By: Michala Butler

Center city stores all boarded up (Capital-Star photo by Micki Butler).

3 weeks ago

10:26 am

Don’t delay in dropping off that mail-in ballot: Ballot drop boxes will be locked at 8 p.m. sharp, Boockvar says

By: Stephen Caruso

Don’t dally in dropping off your mail-in ballot if you still have it.

According to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, ballot drop off boxes should be locked and closed down at 8 p.m. sharp. So unlike a polling place, if there’s a late crunch and you are in line at 8 p.m. to drop off your ballot, you will not be able to stay in line.

That’s because of a small difference in the state law governing in-person vs. mail-in voting, Boockvar elaborated Monday.

“Don’t assume you will get in line, because it needs to be in the box by 8 p.m.,” Boockvar said.

Whether counties abide by the strict deadline for mail-ins is another question.

Micheal Pipe, a Centre County commissioner, told the Capital-Star last week that they planned to treat the mail- in ballot boxes like polling places either way. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. would be safe to drop off their ballot.

Amy Cozze, chief registrar for Northampton County, said in an email she would follow Boockvar.

“The deadline is clear that ballots must be received by 8 p.m. – it is not covered by the same statute that allows those in line to vote at their polling location by 8,” Cozze said in an email. “So yes, they will be locked at 8 p.m..”

Mike Pries, a Dauphin County commissioner, said the drop off box will be emptied out one final time at 8 p.m. before it is removed from outside the county courthouse in downtown Harrisburg and brought inside to a “secure location.”

Either way, if you still have a ballot in Pennsylvania, return it as soon as possible. And a reminder: You are not required to show ID to drop off a ballot, and counties are not allowed to discount your ballot because of a bad signature.

Last updated:10:26 am

3 weeks ago

10:14 am

Biden campaigns in Scranton, visits childhood home

By: John L. Micek

Democratic nominee Joe Biden is starting his Election Day in Scranton, where he’s made a few appearances, including visiting his childhood home in the Electric City, MSNBC reported this morning. Here’s a glimpse of the former vice president’s morning so far.

And:

From Yamiche Alcindor, of PBS NewsHour:

Scott Detrow, of NPR reports:

From Julia Terruso, of the Inquirer:

3 weeks ago

9:49 am

The scene in West Philadelphia

By: Rjaa Ahmed

The scene outside Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia.

(Capital-Star photo by Rjaa Ahmed)
(Capital-Star photo by Rjaa Ahmed)

3 weeks ago

9:06 am

In Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a definite choice to vote in-person

By: Stephen Caruso

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Most of the voters waiting in the spaced out, socially distant line outside Ebenezer Baptist Church in Pittsburgh’s Hill District didn’t even think of voting by mail.

(@StephenJ_Caruso Twitter)

“I didn’t trust Trump,” said Fred Davis, a 65-year old resident of this historically Black neighborhood.

“The machine … it’s for me ,” added Mark Scoggins, another voter. He was in a bit of a huff as he left, however, due to some teething issues. 

The poll workers, Scoggin said, did not seem to know how to use the new scanners that are needed as part of a statewide voting machine update, aimed at increasing election security.

“I just don’t like the confusion,” Scoggins said of his early morning poll run, though he was confident his ballot was counted.

Others, like Beatrice Hines, an elderly woman who showed in her wheelchair to vote, said the morning went smoothly for her.

She voted for all Democrats, like she always has, Hines said. But she also dislikes Trump.

“He’s a liar, he’s a cheat, you just name it,” Hines said.

Karen Beatty requested a mail-in ballot earlier this year, but decided to vote in person anyway. She brought the envelope with her, signed the poll book, and cast a ballot on the machine.

“I didn’t want my ballot to be lost,” she said. When she left, Beatty still had the mail-in ballot in hand, however.

She also reported a malfunctioning machine, a report that other voters mentioned, though the line to vote kept moving.

Turnout looked about average for a presidential election, according to a Democratic ward leader at the polling place.

A half hour later, a county technician showed up. He was in and out in about five minutes. There was no issue with a machine, he said.

“Technology,” he said with a shrug as he left.

Last updated:9:09 am

3 weeks ago

7:51 am

The early scene statewide, from west to east

By: John L. Micek

Here’s a look at early voting across Pennsylvania this Election Day morning.

First up, it’s Stephen Caruso in Pittsburgh:

And here’s Kenny Cooper in Cheltenham, Montgomery County:

Last updated:7:51 am

3 weeks ago

7:19 am

Pa., the electoral battleground: What you need to know about the Keystone State and the Electoral College

By: Stephen Caruso

Remember, the president is not, technically, elected by your votes. They are instead selected by the Electoral College, a system where each state gets one vote for every representative they have in Congress, for a minimum of three electoral votes per state.

(Dsw4/WikiMedia Commons)

There was chatter and innuendo — denied by state Republican officials and office holders at the time  — of a plan to use the General Assembly to appoint these electors. 

Earlier in the United States history, that is how the Electoral College was chosen. And the  U.S. Constitution leaves choosing electors up to such Manner as the [state] Legislature thereof may direct.”

In the 1930’s, Pennsylvania’s state Legislature did choose, writing into state law that the presidential electors are chosen by voters, Bruce Ledewitz, a Pennsylvania constitutional law professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Any change to this process would have to be signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, according to an internal analysis done by the General Assembly’s Legislative Reference Bureau, a nonpartisan office that drafts legislation. And any disagreement over the law here would go to the state Supreme Court and its liberal majority, seemingly giving Democrats an advantage.

But Republicans could counter by making the issue a federal, constitutional fight, said Mike Dimino, a law professor at Widener Commonwealth Law School in suburban Harrisburg. 

Republicans could argue that the federal constitution gives all power to the Legislature to appoint electors without regard for existing state law. Such a decision would fall to the U.S. Supreme Court and its conservative majority.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives also has a role. If there’s an Electoral College tie, or a dispute over who’s delegates should represent the state, the lower chamber decides who gets to represent the state in the electoral college. 

So, if Harrisburg tries to set on slate of delegates, but the state’s popular vote goes another way, that’ll fall to the House.

The House would vote on Electoral College issues by state, not by individual member. Currently, despite being in the minority, Republicans control the most state delegations. That could change on Election Day

If this is all confusing and frustrating, that’s okay. We don’t really know what happens if Pennsylvania’s electors are challenged, Dimino noted. 

“No state has tried this,” he said.

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Last updated:2:50 pm