What to Know
- Pennsylvania will undertake a primary election amid civil unrest, a pandemic, the introduction of new voting machines in 22 counties and the debut of mail-in balloting that's pushed county election bureaus to their limits.
- Polls are open until 8 p.m.
- There will be hundreds of fewer polling places to cope with difficulties from the coronavirus, while Gov. Tom Wolf is ordering Philadelphia and five counties to keep counting mailed-in ballots that arrive up to a week after polls close, as long as they are post-marked by then.
Pennsylvania is undertaking a primary election Tuesday amid civil unrest, the coronavirus pandemic, the introduction of new voting machines in some counties and the debut of mail-in balloting that has pushed county election bureaus to their limits.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. They will close at 8 p.m.
The result of the highest-profile contest on the ballot is a foregone conclusion, with President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden their presumptive party nominees.
There is only one competitive primary in the only three statewide races, for attorney general, auditor general and treasurer. That's a six-way Democratic primary for the nomination to run for auditor general.
All 18 of the state’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives are seeking reelection, although only two have primary opposition. In the Legislature, all 203 House seats and half the 50-member Senate are up this year.
Primary voters will also pick delegates and alternates for the two major parties’ presidential nominating conventions.
There will be hundreds of fewer polling places to cope with difficulties recruiting election volunteers fearful of contracting the coronavirus, while social distancing rules will be in place at the still-open locations.
With protests over George Floyd’s death raging in Pennsylvania's cities, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday ordered Philadelphia and five other counties to keep counting mailed-in ballots that arrive up to seven days after polls close at 8 p.m., as long as they are post-marked by then.
Officials in several counties had already sought a delayed deadline, but Wolf’s order faced a court challenge by Republican Party officials, who said it violates constitutional protections that ensure equal voting laws.
More than 1.8 million voters applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot, smashing expectations by state officials and bringing warnings that contest results will be delayed well past election night.
Officials in some counties have worried that voters wouldn’t receive their ballot in time for the U.S. Postal Service to return it to county election offices by the election day deadline.
Wolf's order is limited to Philadelphia and Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie and Montgomery counties, where his emergency declaration over the protests was active as of Monday. Meanwhile Tuesday, a judge will hear a petition to extend the deadline in Bucks County.
Voters who do not receive their ballot in the mail can vote provisionally at their polling location. In addition, some counties were providing ballot drop-off locations.
Twenty-two counties were already dealing with the difficulty of rolling out new voting machines ordered by Wolf as a bulwark against election meddling.
The election was postponed from April 28 avoid the height of Pennsylvania’s spike in coronavirus cases, and candidates and political parties have urged voters to cast ballots by mail.