Pennsylvania's primary is on April 26, but the deadline to register to vote is this Monday — March 28.
Of course, the presidential primary has much of the spotlight, but also up for grabs is the Democratic nomination for one of Pa.'s U.S. Senate seats — a seat which has been called crucial for party control
. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, former Pa. environmental secretary Katie McGinty and former congressman Joe Sestak are vying to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in the general election
Also on the primary ballot: candidates seeking the Pa. Attorney General nomination (controversial incumbent Kathleen Kane will not seek re-election
) and local candidates seeking re-election to their Pa. House posts. (See our more of our PolitiCrap blog posts
for coverage of these races.)
In mid-February, Pa. Secretary of State Pedro Cortes stopped by City Paper's offices
to talk about the state's new online voter registration system. Pennsylvanians can find online voter registration info at register.votesPA.com
, where the application is offered in both English and Spanish. So far the system has seen just over 200,000 new users. Residents can also use it to update their voting records — address change, party change, etc.
"About 40 percent of those using online voter registration [are] using the tool to update their records. And, every time you update a record, what that means is our voter rolls are more accurate," Sec. Cortes told CP
. That means, he says, a more efficient workflow for county election offices.
Historically during presidential election years, voter turnout is around 60 percent in Pennsylvania. During municipal elections, turnout can dip as low as 40 percent.
“We have a challenge here in Pennsylvania when it comes to actually voting,” Sec. Cortes said. “A large percentage of our population don’t exercise their right to vote.”
Currently there are about eight million registered voters in the state — four million Democrat, three million Republican and the rest unaffiliated. In Allegheny County, about 865,000 citizens are registered, with around 512,000 Democrats, 240,000 Republicans, and the rest unaffiliated.
Pennsylvania is a closed primary state though, so only voters registered with a specific party will be able to vote on April 26.