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Voting in Philly: Everything you need to know about the midterms

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Where, when, and how to vote on November 6

Three voting booths in Philadelphia. Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

With the general election a mere two weeks away, it’s time to nail down your voting plans. It’s a big election for Pennsylvania this year, with both governor and senator seats up for grabs. On top of that, Pennsylvania was recently redistricted, so you may be in a new congressional district than before. Suffice to say, it’s important to get details clear now, and we have you covered

When to vote

The midterm election this year is held Tuesday, November 6. There’s a 13 hour window in which you can make it to the polls—they’ll be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day. But if you’re cramped for time, never fear. As long as you’re in the line at 8 p.m., you can still vote.

It’s too late to register to vote (the deadline was October 9) but absentee voters can still apply for a ballot by October 30 at 5 p.m. There’s a quick turnaround, though. The county you’re voting in must receive your absentee ballot by November 2.

Where to vote

Pennsylvania’s Department of State website has a handy tool to help find the polling place nearest you. While many of them are in community centers and churches, don’t be thrown if yours is in an odd location. In the primary elections a salon and a barber shop were among the list of polling spots.

What to bring

You must bring a photo ID to vote if this is your first time voting at your poll location. That can include,

  • Photo ID issued by the state of Pennsylvania or the US Government
  • US passport
  • US armed forces ID
  • Student ID
  • Employee ID

If you don’t have a photo ID, there are several options. You can 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.

Here’s what will be on the ballot

There are a few big-ticket items on the ballot next month and one bond issue:

Governor and Lieutenant Governor: Current governor, Tom Wolf is running against Republican challenger Scott Wagner, a former state senator. The two went head-to-head last month in a debate moderated by Alex Trebek. Paul Glover from the Green Party and Libertarian Ken Krawchuck are also running.

The governor and lieutenant governor are elected together in the general election in Pennsylvania, but we wanted to give you a rundown of who the Lieutenant Governor candidates are, anyway. Democrat John Fetterman is going up against Republican challenger Jeff Bartos, as Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick runs for the Green party, and Kathleen Smith for the Libertarian. For the first time in Pennsylvania history, there’s no incumbent; Fetterman beat out the current Lieutenant Governor, Michael Stack, in the primaries.

US Senate: The U.S. senator race is another big one for Pennsylvania this year. Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey is going up against Republican challenger Lou Barletta, with Neal Gale from the Green Party, and Libertarian Dale Kerns Jr. also running.

US House of Representatives: Voters will elect 18 candidates to serve on the US house of representatives. But be mindful—Pennsylvania’s congressional map was redrawn this year after a lawsuit alleged the previous map discriminated against Democrats, wrote. Now, if you live in Philly, you’re likely in district 2, 3, or 5. Figure out which district you live in (and who your candidates are) with this Ballotpedia search tool.

What about ballot questions?

Philly has one bond issue on the ballot this year, but it should be of interest to many Curbed readers:

“Should the City of Philadelphia borrow one hundred eighty-one million dollars ($181,000,000.00) 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?”

The question was approved by city council in bill 180552 last month. If passed, this is roughly how the money would break down:

  • $5 million for transit
  • $37 million for streets and sanitation
  • $98 million for municipal buildings
  • $26.6 million for parks, recreation, and museums
  • $14.6 million for economic and community development

A similar bill went in front of voters back in 2016, asking for approval to borrow $184 million for the same capital purposes, with a similar monetary breakdown. The issue received support from many residents and passed with 66.65 percent voting for it.