Today is Pennsylvania’s 2021 Primary Election Day. 2021 is mostly municipal elections for seats in local governments, but this primary also has four additional ballot items which include three Constitutional Amendments. Polls are open today from 7AM until 8PM and any mail-in or absentee ballots must arrive at your county election office by 8PM tonight and will not be accepted, regardless of when they are postmarked, beyond that time. More information about today’s election and election rules can be found at VotesPA.com.
Those who are voting in person for the first time or the first time at a new precinct must provide acceptable identification or they may only cast a provisional ballot. Acceptable ID includes, but isn’t limited to, any PennDOT issued license or ID, a Federal Passport, or non photo ID issued by the state or federal government.
Acceptable ID for Voters
Photographic identification includes
- Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card
- ID issued by any Commonwealth agency
- ID issued by the U.S. Government
- U.S. passport
- U.S. Armed Forces ID
- Student ID
- Employee ID
None-Photographic ID Includes
- Confirmation issued by the County Voter Registration Office
- Non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth
- Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government
- Firearm permit
- Current utility bill
- Current bank statement
- Current paycheck
- Government check
Any registered voter may cast a ballot for or against these four items even if there are no candidates running in the primary for the party they registered with.
The first initiative on the ballot is one of three amendments proposed to the Pennsylvania Constitution. The amendment seeks to change Article III Section 9 of the constitution to give the General Assembly the power to end or extend a state of emergency with a concurrent resolution by simple majority vote without requiring the approval of the Governor. Last year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the current constitution allows the General Assembly to take a vote on states of emergency, but such votes are subject to the same checks and balances as any other legislation and can be vetoed or approved by the Governor.
𝗜𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘀: 𝑆ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑃𝑒𝑛𝑛𝑠𝑦𝑙𝑣𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑎 𝐶𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑒 𝑒𝑥𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑙𝑎𝑤 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝐴𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑙𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑥𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑎 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 𝑑𝑒𝑐𝑙𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛—𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝐶𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑤𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑡ℎ 𝑎𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑑𝑑𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑑𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑖𝑡𝑠 𝑠𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑝𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑢𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑑𝑒𝑐𝑙𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛—𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑏𝑦 𝑠𝑖𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑒 𝑚𝑎𝑗𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑦, 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑏𝑦 𝑟𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑥𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑐𝑘 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑏𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑜𝑟 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑎𝑙 𝑜𝑟 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑎𝑙?
The second ballot question is the second of three proposed amendments to Pennsylvania’s Constitution. This amendment seeks to modify Article IV of the constitution which defines the governor’s power to declare a state of emergency. Under current PA law the Governor is given sole power over the declaration and management over a state of emergency for 90 days to allow quick and decisive action. The amendment would give the general assembly more power over the state of emergency; automatically ending any emergency declaration by the governor within 21 days without a concurrent resolution by the legislature and giving management of the emergency to the assembly through the passage of law instead of the governor’s executive order.
𝗜𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘀: 𝑆ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑃𝑒𝑛𝑛𝑠𝑦𝑙𝑣𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑎 𝐶𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑒 𝑒𝑥𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑙𝑎𝑤 𝑠𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡: 𝑎 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 𝑑𝑒𝑐𝑙𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑤𝑖𝑙𝑙 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑖𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑢𝑡𝑜𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 21 𝑑𝑎𝑦𝑠, 𝑟𝑒𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑑𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦, 𝑢𝑛𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝐴𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑙𝑦 𝑡𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑒𝑥𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦; 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑜𝑟 𝑚𝑎𝑦 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑑𝑒𝑐𝑙𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑎 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑜𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐶𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑤𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑡ℎ 𝑢𝑛𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝐴𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑙𝑦 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑠 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛; 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐺𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝐴𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑙𝑦 𝑒𝑛𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑠 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑙𝑎𝑤𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑎𝑔𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡?
The third initiative is the third proposed constitutional amendment. If passed, the amendment would adjust Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution to include language prohibiting the state from restricting or denying the rights of any person based on their race or ethnicity, ensuring freedom from discrimination based on race. Adding this language to the commonwealth’s constitution ensures that even if some day the federal constitution was amended to strike racial and ethnic protections from its provisions, those rights will still exist within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania independently of the Federal Government.
𝗜𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘀: 𝑆ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑃𝑒𝑛𝑛𝑠𝑦𝑙𝑣𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑎 𝐶𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑡𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑏𝑒 𝑎𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑑 𝑏𝑦 𝑎𝑑𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑠 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑤 𝑠ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑏𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑜𝑟 𝑎𝑏𝑟𝑖𝑑𝑔𝑒𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑢𝑎𝑙’𝑠 𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑛𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦?
The fourth and final of these ballot initiatives is for Act 2020-91 which poses the question of whether or not municipal fire departments with paid staff should be able to borrow funds from the state through the office of the Fire Commissioner. Currently only volunteer fire departments and EMS squads can take loans from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the purposes of buying or maintaining equipment and training. If passed, Act 2020-91 would not increase the amounts of money available for loans, but would allow professional firefighters and EMTs to apply for loans from the same pool of money as volunteers. The commonwealth currently sets aside $100 million a year to fund the program.
𝗜𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘀: 𝐷𝑜 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑓𝑎𝑣𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑏𝑡𝑒𝑑𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑎𝑢𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑧𝑒𝑑 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑢𝑚 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑙𝑜𝑎𝑛𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑒𝑠, 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑚𝑏𝑢𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑣𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑒𝑟 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑐𝑢𝑒 𝑠𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑑𝑠 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟 35 𝑃𝐴.𝐶.𝑆. §7378.1 (𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑟𝑒𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑢𝑚 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑎𝑑𝑑𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑖𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑏𝑡𝑒𝑑𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠) 𝑡𝑜 𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑙𝑢𝑑𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑎𝑛𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑝𝑎𝑙 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑡𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠 𝑜𝑟 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑣𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑝𝑎𝑖𝑑 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑛𝑒𝑙 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 𝑚𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑣𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑢𝑟𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑠ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑜𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑖𝑧𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑠𝑒 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑠 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑝𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡, 𝑎𝑚𝑏𝑢𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑐𝑢𝑒 𝑣𝑒ℎ𝑖𝑐𝑙𝑒𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑝𝑢𝑟𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑠𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑠 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑝𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡, 𝑎𝑚𝑏𝑢𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑐𝑢𝑒 𝑣𝑒ℎ𝑖𝑐𝑙𝑒𝑠, 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑝𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑝𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑛𝑒𝑐𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑎𝑟𝑦 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑒𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑦 𝑚𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑣𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑛𝑖𝑒𝑠?