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April 26, 2016

2016 Pennsylvania primary: What you need to know

Elections Voters
12-042616_PAPrimary_Carroll.jpg Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Jake Benson came out to vote at the William Loesch Public School, Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

Polls will be open until 8 p.m. for Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary as voters cast ballots in a number of interesting contests, including the presidential races, a competitive Democratic race for U.S. senator and a re-election bid by a Philadelphia congressman facing federal corruption charges.

RELATED STORY: 2016 Pennsylvania Primary: Wrapping it up and looking ahead

As you head out to vote, here's a rundown of what to expect, as well as a list of voter resources:


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will vie in the Democratic presidential primary.

On the Republican side, businessman Donald Trump faces opposition from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Pennsylvania offers the most delegates of all five states holding primaries on Tuesday. (Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island are the others.)


The competitive Democratic race for a U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania features Joe Sestak, a former congressman and three-star admiral; Katie McGinty, former chief of staff for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf; John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, Pa.; and small businessman Joseph Vodvarka. The winner takes on U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, the incumbent Republican, in the general election in November.


Who will replace embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who is not seeking re-election? Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli are on the Democratic ballot. On the Republican side, former prosecutor Joe Peters is contested by state Sen. John Rafferty.


Incumbent U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, seeking re-election in the 2nd Congressional District as the subject of a federal indictment, is opposed by Dwight Evans, a state representative; Brian Gordon, commissioner in Lower Merion Township; and Dan Muroff, 9th Ward leader.


In the 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Delaware County and parts of Chester County, Montgomery County, Berks County and Lancaster, Democratic incumbent Patrick Meehan is challenged by Stanley Casacio, who runs a family real estate business. The Democratic side features pastor Bill Golderer and Mary Ellen Balchunis, a political science professor and former Philadelphia mayoral assistant.


In the 8th Congressional District, which incorporates Bucks County and part of Montgomery County, incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican, is retiring. The field of candidates for his seat includes two Democrats, state Rep. Steve Santarsiero and chemist and small business owner Shaughnessy Naughton. On the Republican side, the nomination is sought by Brian Fitzpatrick, brother of the incumbent and a former agent with the FBI; former longtime Bucks County Commissioner Andrew Warren; and psychologist Marc Duome.


In the 9th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Delaware and Chester counties, a special election will replace Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic F. Pileggi, who resigned to become a county judge. Marty Molloy, a Democrat from Wallingford, Delaware County, opposes Republican Tom Killion, a longtime state representative.


All registered voters in Pennsylvania – not just Republicans and Democrats – can be heard on a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that would formally abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court.

Another state referendum to increase the mandatory retirement age of Pennsylvania judges from 70 to 75 was delayed until the Nov. 8 general election.

All registered voters in Philadelphia will be eligible to vote on a proposed amendment to the city's Home Rule Charter that would create an independent Commission on African-American Males.


The majority of Pennsylvania's 71 Republican delegates are not required to support the candidate who gets the most votes in the primary. Instead, 54 of the delegates — three elected in each of the state's 18 congressional districts — can support any candidate they choose at July's national convention in Cleveland. For example, those delegates could decide to vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, even if most state Republicans vote for Donald Trump.


Polls in Pennsylvania are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Anybody in line by 8 p.m. must be allowed to vote. Report issues or problems encountered at the polling place to the Philadelphia County Board of Elections at 215-686-1590.


You may want to take an umbrella to the polls. Isolated showers before 10 a.m., then scattered showers and thunderstorms between 10 a.m. and noon, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after noon, according to the National Weather Service. Partly sunny, with a high near 82. Breezy, with a west wind 7 to 12 mph increasing to 16 to 21 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. 


Like all Pennsylvanians, Philadelphians are encouraged to vote Tuesday and call the DA's Election Fraud Task Force at (215) 686-9641, 9643 or 9644 if they experience any difficulty casting their ballot.