The countdown is on: It’s just one week until the Pennsylvania general election day on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.
It may be an off-year, but there are still some important positions that Philly will be able to elect, including the district attorney and city controller. There are two interesting statewide and citywide ballot questions to be considered, too.
Regardless if you’ve been studying your ballot for months or just realized Election Day is in a few days, consider this a quick primer on voting in Philly.
When to vote
On Tuesday, November 7, polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If you are in line at your polling location by 8 p.m., you can still vote.
Where to vote
If you don’t know or can’t remember your polling location, never fear: Enter your address into this widget and it’ll tell you where to vote. (But first, make sure you are registered. Unfortunately, if you are not, you can’t vote—the deadline to register was October 10, 2017.)
What to bring
If it’s your first time voting at your poll location, you need to bring a form of photo I.D. These will work:
- Photo ID issued by any Pennsylvania agency or the US government
- US passport
- US Armed Forces ID
- Student ID
- Employee ID
No photo ID? Bring a confirmation from a county voter registration office; a non-photo ID issued by Pennsylvania or the US government; a firearm permit; or a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or government check.
These are the elections in play
- Lawrence S. Krasner (D) versus Beth Grossman (R)
- Rebecca Rhynhart (D) versus Michael Tomlinson (R)
A long list of 23 city and state judges are also up for election.
These are the two ballot questions, explained
1. Amending the Homestead Property Tax Assessment Exclusion
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?
The Inquirer has a great explainer on this, but the gist of the question is this: Should local taxing authorities be able to exempt residents from paying property taxes on their homes?
Pennsylvania has some of the highest property tax rates in the nation that are set by their local government and schools. The law currently allows authorities to exclude from taxation up to 50 percent the amount of the median assessed value of all homes in a taxing jurisdiction. This has been the law since 1997.
If the majority of voters say “yes” to the ballot question, the General Assembly would then make moves to amend the law to allow local governments to exempt taxpayers from paying any property taxes on their primary residences.
In turn, jurisdictions that do this would have to replace the funds collected from property taxes with other types of taxes. The ballot question doesn’t address this, though.
2. Citywide bond question
Should the City of Philadelphia borrow ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY—TWO MILLION DOLLARS ($172,000,000.00) to be spent for and toward capital purposes as follows: Transit; Streets and Sanitation; Municipal Buildings; Parks, Recreation and Museums; and Economic and Community Development?
If voters approve this ballot question, it would allow the city government to borrow $172 million that will “result in something of value with a useful life to the City of more than five years,” such as real estate, construction of or improvement of buildings, properties, or streets.
Here’s how that chunk of change would break down:
- Transit: $4,767,309
- Streets and Sanitation: $23,997,918
- Municipal Buildings: $95,666,840
- Parks, Recreation and Museums: $32,325,872
- Economic and Community Development: $15,242,061
City Council approved a bill regarding this bond question and budget breakdown in September.