Pennsylvania’s voters will make their choices in the primary election on Tuesday, May 17. Will you be one of them?
Federal elections and Pennsylvania state elections always take place in even-numbered years. County and municipal elections happen in odd-numbered years. So this year’s primary will cover county and local offices.
In a primary election, members of the political parties – mainly the Democrats and Republicans – choose the candidates who will represent them in the general election in November. Under state law, in a primary election, you may vote only for candidates in the party in which you are registered. Democrats choose the Democratic candidates, Republicans choose the Republican candidates. If you are registered as “independent” or “no party affiliation”, you may not vote in a primary. If you are registered in a party in which there are no candidates on the ballot (for example, Green or Libertarian) you may not vote in a primary.
The winning candidates for each position from each party will face each other in November’s general election. Candidates who have no opponents in the primary will automatically go on to the general election. All registered voters may vote for any candidate in a general election.
If you’re not registered to vote, it’s too late this time. But you can still register for the general election in November here . You can confirm your registration and locate your polling place in Allegheny County here .
Allegheny County positions open for election:
Judges, County Executive, County Controller, District Attorney, Treasurer, and Council Members
County Council members serve staggered 4 year terms. Voter will choose representatives for odd-numbered districts this year.
City of Pittsburgh positions open for election:
City Council, City Controller
Other municipal positions open for election:
Some mayors, many Council members, district magistrates and constables, School Directors
There are far too many candidates to list here, but you can look at the Trib Total Media TribLive website for links to lists of candidates in your community.
So why should be bother to vote when it’s “only” a local election?
Elections are important because government officials ‘” the ones we elect and those they hire ‘” decide how much taxes we pay and how those taxes are spent. They determine whether we go to war, whether to build or repair our roads and bridges, what our schools teach, and what social services to provide, and to whom.
Government decisions favor the rich instead of the poor because rich people vote more than poor people do. People least likely to vote are new voters, people with lower incomes, with disabilities, with criminal records, African-Americans, youth, and women. According to the US Census Bureau , people who earn more than $100,000 per year vote at a rate of nearly three to one over those who earn less than $30,000.
Local elections are important than ever before because the Republicans’ demands for federal and state governments to abandon their responsibilities force the local governments to try to make up the difference.
So, if you don’t like these conditions, you CAN change them. Voting is just the beginning. Be informed about the issues important to you. Contact your elected officials , either on your own or as a group with your friends, neighbors, family, or co-workers. Join an organization that works on things you care about. If there isn’t an organization, start one.
State and federal laws protect your voting rights . You cannot lose your job, or your benefits, or be evicted for voting. People with felony convictions, who are registered, can vote in PA once they are no longer incarcerated. Homeless people who are registered can vote. People with disabilities can get help from the person of their choice in the voting booth. No one can harass or threaten you at the voting station.
The Allegheny County Election Division supervises all elections in the county. There is a Judge of Election at each polling place to help you if there is a problem with your registration. An Allegheny County Common Pleas judge will be on duty Election Day to handle voting disputes. Call 412-350-5463 to report a problem. If you are not permitted to vote, insist on a provisional ballot .
All polling places are open on Tuesday, May 17, from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Take your children, so they can learn about voting. You do not need your voter registration card to vote, but you do need to show ID if this is your first time voting at your polling place. All of the standard forms of ID are accepted.
If you’ve never voted before, don’t worry. There is a large sample ballot hanging on the wall of the room. You can look at it all you want and chat about it with anybody working the polls (inside or outside) or other voters who might be there. Take your time. Think about what’s important to you. Don’t worry about using the new voting machines. If you can use an automatic banking machine, you can operate a voting machine. There’s a demonstration video online. The poll workers will help you if you ask.
So vote. Believe me, you’ll feel great afterward.
For more information on the candidates
Trib Total Media TribLive
For more information on voting and elections
PA League of Women Voters
Allegheny County Elections Division