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Your Guide To Primary Election Day In Centre County

Tuesday is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania, and those who have not already done so by mail-in or absentee ballot will be casting their votes for nominations for municipal and countywide offices, school boards, and statewide judges.

Three proposed state constitutional amendments and a statewide referendum also are on the ballot.

How To Vote

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Find your polling location here.

Voters casting mail-in ballots can deliver them to the main entrance of the county’s Willowbank Building, 420 Holmes Street in Bellefonte, or to any of eight secure drop-box locations around the county until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Through Friday, the county elections office sent 10,532 mail and absentee ballots and had 5,920 returned.

Voters who received a mail-in ballot but wish to vote in person instead can bring their mail ballot and outer envelope to their polling place to be voided. Once the mail ballot has been surrendered and the voter signs a declaration, they will be given a regular ballot.

Those who applied for a mail ballot, wish to vote in person instead, and don’t have a mail ballot to surrender can cast a provisional vote. The county election board will verify the voter did not cast a mail ballot before their in-person ballot is counted.

Mail-in and absentee ballots must be received by the county elections office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, meaning it’s too late to send them by mail. Military and overseas absentee ballots must be mailed no later than 11:59 p.m. on Monday and received by the elections office by 5 p.m. on May 25.

In emergency situations, such as an unexpected illness, disability, or last-minute absence from the county, voters can apply for an emergency absentee ballot until 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The application and details can be found here.

In the last municipal election primary in 2019 — prior to the enactment of Pennsylvania’s law for no-excuse-required mail-in ballots — Centre County had 23,879 voters cast ballots, a turnout of 23.53%

What’s On The Ballot?

Ballot Questions

While the primary elections for offices are limited to Democratic and Republican voters, anyone, regardless of party affiliation, is able to vote on the four statewide ballot questions.

Two of those are related to the governor’s authority for extending emergency declarations. The first asks if the General Assembly should be able to terminate or extend an emergency declaration or a portion of the declaration by a simple majority. A “yes” on this question would allow the General Assembly to extend or terminate the declaration and the governor could not veto it. A “no” allows the governor to continue to veto resolutions that would extend or terminate emergency declarations. The General Assembly can override a veto with a two-thirds majority.

The second question asks if emergency declarations should expire after 21 days unless the General Assembly takes action to extend it. A “yes” vote would give the authority to the legislature to extend an emergency declaration after 21 days. A “no” vote would allow the governor to continue to renew a declaration on his or her own every 90 days.

Also on the ballot is a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit the denial or restriction of a person’s rights based on race or ethnicity. A “yes” vote would amend the constitution to protect the rights of individuals regardless of their race or ethnicity. A “no” vote opposes adding the language to protect individuals’ rights regardless of race or ethnicity.

The fourth question is a referendum on whether to make municipal fire and emergency medical services (those with paid employees) eligible for loans from a statewide program currently only available to volunteer fire and EMS companies. A “yes” vote would allow municipal fire and EMS companies to be eligible to apply for state loans. A “no” vote would prevent municipal fire and EMS companies from being able to apply for the state loan program.

State Judges

Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Candidates are vying for one seat on the state’s highest court. Three are seeking the Republican nomination for November’s election — Paula Patrick, Kevin Brobson and Patricia McCullough. Just one candidate, Maria McLaughlin, is on the Democratic ballot.

Pennsylvania Superior Court: Candidates also are seeking to win one open seat on the state Superior Court. Jill Beck, Timika Lane, and Bryan Neft are on the Democratic ballot, where the winner will likely face the sole Republican ballot candidate, Megan Sullivan, in November.

Commonwealth Court: Two seats are open on Pennsylvania’s other intermediate appellate court. On the Democratic ballot are David Lee Spurgeon, Lori A. Dumas, Sierra Street, and Amanda Green Hawkins. On the Republican ballot, Drew Crompton and Stacy Marie Wallace are the only two candidates and so both will likely advance to the November election.

Statewide judges are elected to 10-year terms at the end of which they are subject to a yes or no retention vote. The mandatory retirement age for statewide judges is 75.

Countywide Races

Only one Centre County-wide primary race is contested. Laura Shadle, who was appointed to the position to fill a vacancy last year, and Shelley Thompson are vying for the Democratic nomination for jury commissioner. On the Republican ballot, incumbent Hope Miller is the only candidate. Centre County has two jury commissioners — one Democrat and one Republican — and both positions are up for election this year.

For district attorney, incumbent Bernie Cantorna is running unopposed on the Democratic ballot, and no candidate filed for the Republican ballot.

Municipal & School Board Races

Voters throughout the county will be casting ballots for nominations for municipal offices and school board members.

Sample ballots with races for each municipality and precinct are available on the county elections website.

State College will see highly contested races for mayor and borough council.

Democrats Jim Leous and Ezra Nanes are seeking to succeed current Mayor Ron Filippelli. No candidate has filed on the Republican ballot. Whichever candidate does not win the Democratic nomination could still appear on the ballot in November if he wins the Republican nomination on write-in votes. That happened in 2017 when Don Hahn won the Democratic nomination in the primary (and eventually the general election) and fellow Democrat Michael Black won the Republican nomination through write-ins.

Three borough council seats are up for election this year. Incumbents Theresa Lafer and Evan Myers are term-limited and cannot run again for two years, leaving Democrat Katherine Yeaple, who was appointed to fill a vacancy last year, as the only incumbent in the race.

Yeaple is joined on the Democratic ballot by Richard Biever, Filippelli, B. Divine Lipscomb, Gopal Balachandran, and Catherine Dauler.

Jacob Werner is the lone candidate on the Republican ballot. Because up to three candidates can be nominated for each party, write-ins could again play a factor in who moves on to the November election.

For the State College Area School Board of Directors, seven cross-filed candidates are seeking nominations for four seats up for election this year. David Hutchinson is the only incumbent seeking reelection. He is joined by Peter Buck, Deborah Anderson, Carline Crevecoeur, Michelle Glenn Young, Jackie Huff, and Dawn Lorenz

When Will Results Be In?

The advent of mail-in ballots and the procedures that govern them in Pennsylvania means unofficial totals now take a bit longer than they have in the past.

In Centre County, processing and pre-canvassing of mail-in and absentee ballots already received will begin at 7 a.m. on Tuesday in President’s Hall of the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. Three cameras will livestream the processing room from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday on C-NET’s YouTube channel.

Results from the first tranche of mail-in/absentee ballots will be available immediately after polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday and full results from additional tranches are expected to be available by 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Absentee, mail-in, and in-person voting results will be posted as they become available on the elections office website.

Because write-ins may factor into local races, the field for November’s election may not be fully known for a few days after the primary. Election results are unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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