Your Questions About the Pa. Primary Election Answered

Written by on March 3, 2021

Your Questions About the Pa. Primary Election Answered

By Mariella Miller / WLVR

Started March 4, 2021

Photo | Kristopher Radder AP Photo

Registered Democrats and Republicans will take to the polls on May 18 to choose the candidates who will run for state and local seats in the general election on Nov. 2. In this election, voters will choose candidates who will run for State Supreme Court, appellate courts, municipal governments, school boards, and they will also vote on ballot issues

Please fill out the form below to tell us what you want to know and we’ll try to address your question in this regularly updated column. 

Though it feels as if we have been in the throes of an election for at least a dog’s age, time marches on and we’re again in the thick of it with the Pennsylvania primary election.

Part of the anxiety associated with “here comes another one” is the perpetual chaos of either getting out there to vote amid a pandemic or staying home and casting a ballot by mail.

This election FAQ will provide current information about the candidates and how to vote safely and securely. 

Updated March 12

Our second addition to this election season’s FAQs addresses the most recent developments in the races: the candidates’ petitions that were due on March 9. 

And so, we bring you the latest:

The most important questions this week: Who is running and what’s next?

Who is running in Lehigh County? 

For county executive,  incumbent Democrat Phillips Armstrong will be up against Republican Glenn Eckhart, a former county controller. 

When, in a race, there is only one Democrat or one Republican on the ballot, they are still included in the primary. While it might not look like much of a race, there is always the possibility of a write-in candidate, so even though it may be counterintuitive, some races in the primary can have only one candidate. 

In Allentown, there are five Democratic candidates for mayor including current Mayor Ray O’Connell, City Councilmembers Julio Guridy and Ce-Ce Gerlach, former economic development player Matthew Tuerk, Kutztown University graduate Stevie Jones. All are Democrats. 

The sole Republican candidate is Tim Ramos.

Ten candidates are chasing four seats on Allentown City Council: Tino Babayan,

Cynthia Mota, Santo Napoli, Erik Rodriguez, Patrick Palmer, Natalie Santos, Daryl L. Hendricks, Ed Zucal, and Justan Fields are all Democrats. 

Thom Houck is the only Republican candidate for City Council.

All candidates for school boards, magisterial district judges and more can be found on the Lehigh County website.

Who is running in Northampton County?

Incumbent County Executive Lamont McClure will occupy the Democratic ballot, and Republican challenger Steve Lynch will be the lone Republican.

Remember, though it looks odd, one candidate for an office sometimes appears to leave room for the possibility of a write-in.

Candidates for Northampton County Council comprise six Democrats and five Republicans.

Lori Vargo Heffner, Patti Bruno, William McGee, Ronald R. Heckman, Tara Zrinski, and 

Emmanuel Jah-El are the Democrats.

Republicans include Scott. J. Hough, Kristin Lorah Soldridge, John P. Goffredo, Annamarie T. Robertone, and Nicole Romanishan.

The 11 candidates are vying for five open seats on Council. 

In Bethlehem, since Mayor Robert J. Donchez has reached his term limit, he will not be running again. 

Democrats J. William Reynolds and Dana Grubb will face-off in the primary. 

John Kackmar will be the only Republican candidate on the ballot.

More than 800 additional candidates for school boards, constables, auditors and more can be found on the Northampton County website. 

What happens next?

Now we wait. 

Candidates have until March 16 to file objections to the signatures on their opponents’ petitions, though the waiting period rarely results in any change.

March 24 is the deadline for withdrawal by candidates who filed nomination petitions.

We will be looking for the official lists on March 25.

If I indicated last November that I  want to keep voting by mail, why am I getting a letter asking you to apply again for a mail-in ballot?

It’s a bit confusing, but the box you checked online while applying for your 2020 mail-in ballot was an invitation to apply for another mail-in ballot, not the ballot itself. Going forward, you will continue to get an invitation to apply for a mail-in ballot.

What’s this “petition season” I keep hearing about?

Anyone running for elected office in Pennsylvania needs to obtain signatures before they can be on the May 18 ballot, according to WLVR News Community Correspondent Genesis Ortega

The number of signatures required varies by municipality.

A three-week period in February and March is known as “petition season” when candidates usually go door-to-door and hold petition parties to try to get voters to sign their petitions.

This year, as with everything else in our pandemic-surrounded lives, the process looks different. Some candidates are getting creative by hosting drive-by petition parties instead of going door-to-door as they did in the “before times.”

How many petitions can one person sign?

Say you have not yet made up your mind and are thinking about signing more than one petition. You can sign only one petition for a person running for a single seat. However, if more than one candidate will be elected to that office, you can sign more than one petition.

In other words, you can sign only one petition for, say, mayor, because ultimately there will be only one mayor. But, if it’s a school board race and three seats will be filled, you may sign three petitions.

How do I register to vote?

Votes PA offers a comprehensive list of ways to register to vote. You can register online, in person, by mail, and through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and other state government agencies.

The Lehigh County Voter Registration site also answers many basic questions on how, when and under what conditions you may register to vote. It addresses several questions such as what to do if you have recently changed your name and whether you can vote if your 18th birthday falls between the deadline to register and election day. (yes, you can register and vote)

Northampton County also offers a useful FAQ list. Click here to access it. 

Additionally, the League of Women Voter of Lehigh County offers useful information regarding voting rights, elections, and other issues on its site. 

Always check the location of your polling place before venturing out in person to vote. There have been last-minute changes, especially during the pandemic.

We will be updating this regularly and as we get questions, so please fill out the form below to ask your question. 

Submit Your Question

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