A celebrity doctor versus a hoodie-clad former mayor in stroke recovery. A top prosecutor taking on a 2020 election denier. A Republican with the same name as the Democrat he’s trying to replace. A possibility that control of Congress and Harrisburg could hinge on the results.
These are not the ingredients of your typical midterm election. They’re usually fairly predictable referenda on the president’s performance. That’s part of the equation today. But abortion, fracking, inflation and the long shadow of the most recent prior president are also factors.
PublicSource reporters are fanning out to polling places throughout Allegheny County. We’ll post the intel here. Times are approximate.
4:40 p.m., Glenshaw: John Cigna said he’s concerned about “every single issue that’s been bantered around, especially inflation and the economy.” The costs of goods are going up while people’s wages haven’t kept pace, he said. He said he’s a registered Democrat but decided to vote for Republican candidates because they “have a better grasp of the economy. And Democrats have gone too far left.”
4:25 p.m., Glenshaw: Carl Maletic said he voted mostly for Republicans because “inflation is just super crazy” and he was concerned that taxes were rising. He said he did vote for some Democrats because he thought it was important not to vote solely on party lines. “I’m also concerned with people’s rights, too — women and regular people’s rights,” he said.
3:40 p.m., Windgap: Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey arrived at his 23rd polling place of the day, the Ascension Church Social Hall on the city’s western edge. He said his focus has been on thanking poll workers for their vital work, rather than discussing issues, except one: kids and guns.
“There ain’t no rhyme or reason for 14- or 15-year-old kids to be running around with guns,” the Democratic mayor said. He said that one political party – implying that it was the Republicans – showed little interest in addressing the root cause of the issue.
“I think that a particular party has already made a comment that demonstrates their inability to want to move toward meaningful gun reform. When you say that you want to be tough on crime, but you want to be soft on guns, the correlation doesn’t match.”
The mayor warmly greeted Barb Garvey, who said she was a former Democratic Committee member. This time, though, both she and her son – who opted not to be named – had both voted Republican.
“Let’s get out of this recession,” said Garvey, who is retired from work in business administration. “Let’s get this country back to where it’s supposed to be. … I think the Republicans are going to do a better job.”
Her son said he just wanted to be able to afford to buy things again on his salary as a security supervisor.
Gainey said he understood such concerns, but noted that the economy is affected by its recovery from the pandemic and by the war in Ukraine. “That’s the reality of the situation we’re in.”
3 p.m., Hill District: Nancy Horton, right in red T-shirt, and her son Terrell Fields, top right, said they both believe in the importance of always voting. That’s why they took advantage of the voter transportation service offered by the Black Political Empowerment Project [B-PEP] on Tuesday afternoon.
At the top of Horton’s list for why she was voting was her unhappiness with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “Who are you to tell me about my body?” she said. After abortion rights, she listed her main concerns as crime and inflation.
B-PEP was set up to operate voter transportation coined “Roll to the Polls,” election protection watches, canvassing and phone banking. Tim Stevens, B-PEP’s chairman, said at the time of this left photo, he was pleased to share no reported incidents of voter intimidation or other manipulation at the polls.
2:35 p.m., Mount Washington: At Saint Mary of the Mount Church, some of the trickle of afternoon voters expressed distress at negative ads and skepticism about politicians in general, but several said they were motivated by concern about abortion rights.
“I want to make sure that whoever wins thinks women are first-class citizens,” said therapist Kristie Manandhar. “Abortion rights are definitely something that has me voting today.”
Her partner, who asked not to be named, added climate change to the priority list, noting that they have a 4-year-old child. “As a citizen of Pittsburgh, of the U.S., of the world, I think we need to take that into consideration,” he said.
2:25 p.m., McCandless Township: Coming out of Memorial Park Church on Election Day afternoon, Nancy was hesitant at first to talk about what brought her to the polls. Once she clarified she could share while only giving her first name, she opened up.
“The abortion issue is very important for women. I don’t understand how some people can think that a 10-year-old girl can be raped and not have abortion as an option,” she said.
On the issue of inflation, Nancy also said she rejects the notion that it’s President Joe Biden’s fault that costs are rising. Most of all, she sees voting as a central duty as an American. “I would like us to remain a democracy,” she said.
The “disaster” of an economy motivated Mark S., a 62-year-old who works in real estate, to vote.
Mark said he voted for Republican candidates who he believes can move the needle on controlling inflation.
He hopes to see Republicans take control of the U.S. House and Senate.
“Let’s get change,” he said. “I think there are a lot of Democrats who aren’t happy either.”
1:58 p.m., Shaler Township: Mike McCormick, a retired police officer, voted to set an example for his two children, who are 9 and 12. He voted Republican down the line, and though he said all issues are important, he specifically cited crime, inflation and border security as examples.
While his family is in a good spot financially and he’s “not worried about skipping a meal because I need gas this week,” he believes that many are not in that position.
Though he said “what the Democratic Party has done, all over the country, is horrible,” he said he’s been open-minded. “I’m not a slam-the-door-in-their-face kind of guy, you know,” he said. “I pride myself on being able to listen to both sides of the story and not necessarily have to agree.”
He and his wife have tried to refrain from sharing their political views with their children, he said. He believes his children have been exposed to political ads on television and said they’re now forming their own opinions.
“Which I find fascinating, believe it or not,” he said. “It’s interesting to find where your kids have different opinions than you.”
1:30 p.m., Shaler Township: Abortion was a running theme outside of Shaler Area Elementary School throughout the early afternoon.
“I thought that I had reproductive freedom,” said Rachel, 36 and a mother of daughters, who asked that her last name not be published.
Christy, who also asked that her last name be withheld, said she feels strongly about healthcare rights for women or any marginalized group. “I am very disheartened to see the hate, misogyny and white supremacist attitude in the country,” she said, adding that she does not believe the elections will change anything.
Daniel Reardon, who also placed abortion rights at the top of his concerns, held out hope that voting might matter. “I felt very strongly this time that we need to get the right people in the office,” he said, adding that he was voting for Democrats.
Abortion was not top of mind for another voter, who declined to provide her name, but cited inflation as a central issue and said she’d voted Republican. “We want to change Washington,” she said. “We want to change the House, we want to change the Senate, we want to change everything.”
1:30 p.m., Forest Hills: Since childhood, Marie Kolat was taught that voting is a “blessing” she has to take seriously. When Kolat, 61, cast her ballot at the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church today, her main priority was supporting candidates who would catalyze economic change. Inflation has hit her family hard. As the mother of a son with autism, she has to prioritize buying gluten- and dairy-free food for his diet, and the prices have skyrocketed. “He eats before I eat, and that’s sad,” Kolat said.
1:30 p.m., Forest Hills: Chris DeLuzio, the Democratic candidate for the 17th congressional district, was greeted by a ring of his supporters when he stopped by the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church around 1:30 p.m. To him, this election is a fight to protect democracy itself. “We know that there’s so much at stake in this election,” DeLuzio said. “The point of our democracy is to go and make your voice heard. I hope folks get out there. They have a few more hours to do it.”
1:16 p.m., Shaler Township: Ari Weitzman, 35, said he votes in every election. Tuesday was no different. Weitzman, a software engineer, showed up to the polls concerned with reproductive rights and election security, among other issues. He wanted to “vote into office people who not only want elections to remain accessible, but people who accept the results of the previous one,” he said.
He was more inspired to vote against Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano than for his Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro, and he said that he was looking forward to voting for Democrat John Fetterman for Senate.
While he said the voting process was “really easy,” he noted that he was unable to sign up to volunteer as a poll worker this year after trying several times. When he tried to sign up on the county’s website, the submission would fail to go through, he said.
1 p.m., Edgewood: At Edgewood Towne Center, Bill H., of Swisshelm Park, waited for his son to come out of the Taco Bell with their lunch order before taking him back to work at the jail. This year it was a straight red ticket for Bill, who did not want to be photographed or further identified because of his job as a police officer. “I never really thought that I was one way or the other, but the Democrats of today are not the Democrats when I grew up,” he said. “Everyone’s upset. It’s like, live your life, quit being upset over everything.” He feels that the Democrats from his younger days would now be considered Republicans. “I don’t know how anyone can look at what’s going on right now and say, ‘Hey, this is going great.’” For him, the years under President Trump were way better.
12:20 p.m., Swissvale: State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Swissvale, is running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, also a Democrat. She faces another Mike Doyle, a Republican who serves on Plum’s borough council. Here Lee talks to the media after voting at The Greater Swissvale Community Food Bank midday on Tuesday. If elected, Lee would be the first Black woman from Pennsylvania to be elected to Congress.
12:15 p.m., Downtown: The city block between Fourth and Forbes avenues buzzed with people dropping off ballots at the county Elections Division in the early afternoon. It was an efficient process. Motorists had a lane blocked off to park, flip their hazards on and run in to hand over their envelope. There was no line but dozens were able to get their ballots in over the course of five minutes.
Still, one man hit a roadblock. When the poll worker asked if it was his ballot he was turning in — as they asked everyone — the man replied that he was dropping it off for his daughter.
State law, however, only allows people to drop off their own ballots except in cases where a voter with a disability has designated a person in writing to deliver it or there’s a need for an emergency absentee ballot.
The poll worker shared an information sheet with the man and advised him that his daughter could still go to her polling place and vote via provisional ballot.
Dad left unsure what they would do.
12 p.m., Point Breeze: Alejandro Bataller, a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School, came out to the polls today for two reasons. “I felt like my girlfriend’s rights were on the line and I wanted to experience voting,” he said. Bataller, 18, received his U.S. citizenship five years ago. He sees himself voting in the future. “Today felt pretty good.”
11:45 a.m., Highland Park: Sarah Ramsey, mother of two, said she voted because “it’s really important to have my voice heard because of how polarized politics have become recently. Politics are scary.” Her major motivating issues are abortion rights, immigration and equal rights for people of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and genders. “I don’t even have to tell you who I voted for, that’s how polarized we’ve become,” she said. She said she works with undocumented immigrants and “didn’t like how families were being split up and how children were treated. … It’s like they’re being punished for poverty and choices their families made.”
11:15 a.m., East Liberty: Ada Tull, 62, voted for all Democrats. “The most important issue for me is to be able to breathe. It’s important to exercise freedom of speech,” she said while perched on her bike outside of her polling place.
Tull said she served in the Army for 16 years during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Now, as a disabled veteran, she said the effect of politics and policy on veterans is her priority concern. “The Democrats will get us vets our just dues,” she said.
11 a.m., Hill District: Stephanie Carey, administrative assistant for the Black Political Empowerment Project [B-PEP] and the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence, fields calls from the B-PEP offices in the Hill District. The group was operating “Roll to the Polls” services to give voters rides to polling locations throughout the day. Carey said she had calls for cars waiting when she arrived early in the morning. “It’s nothing like it was in May, it’s super busy,” she said. “There’s excitement in the air. … It feels positive, but I don’t know.” Carey, of West Mifflin, was there as the organization’s Election Protection crews fanned out across the city to look for signs of voter suppression and keep an eye on polling locations. “I really think people are looking at what’s happening to them right now and they’re not focusing on what’s happening down the road,” she said. “As I age, I look at what’s down the road, not just for my child but for my grandchildren.” For her, this means that even though she identifies as pro-life, she still believes abortion should be legal. “For me, abortion is just the sparkly word,” she said, but the issue of healthcare choice extends beyond pregnancy “all the way through their life,” she said.
10:50 a.m., East Liberty: “It’s really important to vote, in the midterms especially,” said Anna Rosati. “Things like abortion access and general rights for trans and queer people, I would say those are my baseline issues. I feel like generally if a candidate supports rights for them, they’ll probably support economic equality, income equality.”
10:30 a.m., Shadyside: Daniel Goldstein, 27, said he is a consistent voter but was especially drawn to the polls today. “This is a really important election for reproductive rights, voting rights and promoting liberal ideas,” said Goldstein, an employee of Lululemon who admires Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.
10:15 a.m., Shadyside: “The reason I come out to these elections is to give back to the city that’s hosting me,” said Brianna Baker, a Carnegie Mellon University student voting in Pittsburgh for the second time.
10:07 a.m., Perry South: Kim Gandy boarded a bus in the 5 o’clock hour to travel from her West View home to her polling place on Perrysville Avenue. She arrived at 6:10 a.m., 50 minutes before the polls opened. “Even if I got there first in line, I knew I’d be late for work,” she said later, in a short phone interview, as she took a break from work.
Gandy, 54, works at the airport as a supervisor for a company that pushes wheelchairs and the people who use them to and from airplanes.
Gandy’s plan to not miss too much work looked to be foiled when the judge of elections at the Reformed Presbyterian Home polls didn’t show up on time. Gandy couldn’t wait around or come back after work, so a poll worker helped her fill out a provisional ballot.
“It worked out fine for me, but I saw a bunch of people behind me just leave; they couldn’t stay,” she said.
Gandy got on her way to work, all the while trying to fill out an online complaint form through the Department of State. It threw error after error even though she was certain she was putting in correct information — address, birthday and the like. When she called the complaint number instead and heard she was 31st in line, she decided to leave a message, hoping it would make a difference.
“I just feel like it doesn’t seem right,” she said, highlighting that the Perry South neighborhood is predominantly Black and low income.
Voting turned out to be quite an ordeal, but Gandy was driven to do it because of a promise to her kids.
“Honestly, the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve just been out of politics. I’m just disappointed in everyone,” she said. “But I don’t like to lie so when I told my son I would go vote, I went and voted.”
10:05 a.m., Shadyside: Lee Fogarty, a Democratic Committee member, remarked that her polling place had the most early morning voters that she’s seen in any election in 13 years. “That’s because this election is about men and women having control over their own bodies,” she said.
10 a.m., Squirrel Hill South: Margaret Fischer and Elaine Gowaty handed out slate cards for opposing parties outside the polling place in the Summerset at Frick Park. Both are concerned about quality-of-life issues regarding freedom of choice and the direction the country is heading in under current leadership at the state level. They were also experiencing different emotions about the potential outcome of the election.
Gowaty, a 61-year-old living in Murrysville, said she’s “trying to save Pennsylvania” and believes a change in governor and senator will set the commonwealth on the right path.
“I’m feeling very hopeful. I am for Dr. Oz, Doug Mastriano and Mike Doyle,” Gowaty said.
Fischer, of Squirrel Hill, is a committee person and was handing out slate cards for the Democrats. “The biggest issue is democracy itself surviving.”
10 a.m., Lower Lawrenceville: As a physician, Lindsey Haack has kept a close eye on the medical concerns circulating throughout the election zeitgeist, feeling especially compelled to vote to protect the accessibility of abortion services. She’s distrustful of Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz because she feels he’s used his platform and medical background in a harmful way. “He has used his ‘experience’ and expertise to promote all of these remedies that are not supported by medical evidence,” she said.
Two issues drove Bob Beatty, 60, to cast his ballot this morning at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lower Lawrenceville: crime and inflation. He votes every year but felt especially incentivized after watching Democratic opponent John Fetterman square off against Oz in a televised October debate, feeling Fetterman received undeserved credit for improving Braddock’s crime rates during his tenure as mayor. Although he views Oz as “the lesser of two evils,” he was excited to vote for a Republican. “I’ve been through elections where there have been no Republican candidates on the ballot, so I’m just glad to see things moving back to the middle a little bit,” said Beatty, who works as an inventory manager for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
Christine Brill said she voted today to protect basic democracy and was especially excited to support Fetterman. She first met Fetterman about 20 years ago while working on an art project at a library in Lawrenceville and is proud of the work he’s done in Braddock and Harrisburg. “It’s really cool to know that someone who has similar ethics and drive is representing us,” said Brill, an architect. “I’m proud that I know him, and I’m also deeply sad that he’s facing these challenges.”
9:50 a.m., Downtown: State Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Lawrenceville, said she is hopeful after observing high voter turnout this morning. “There is a lot riding on this election and we are seeing that with the energy at the polls,” she said. “I haven’t seen that for a couple of years. … I do feel hopeful of this election.” She hopes that the elections will give Democrats the opportunity to not only defend people’s rights but also expand access to affordable housing, abortion, healthcare and voting rights.
8:15 a.m., Mt. Washington: Alex Grubbs, 26, paused his walk with his dog, Barbados, after voting. Grubbs, who works in public relations for a digital communications firm, said he’s voted in every election since he turned 18. The 2016 election, he said, was eye-opening. “We were so young but we immediately felt the effects going on from that election,” said Grubbs, who identifies as half Filipino and is on the board of directors of the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh. “Now that I’m older and more aware, it’s more than just rights for me: It’s about everybody, women and the LGBTQ+ community. … We saw how quickly these rights can disappear, we need to be involved no matter what,” he said, noting how close elections have been recently. He said he is interested in making sure that the Asian American community in Pennsylvania feels drawn to participate in the electoral process and that there are organizations across the state looking to better involve that demographic in politics.
8:05 a.m., Squirrel Hill South: One voter at the Summerset Community Center said she was most motivated to show up to protect “the sacredness of the ballot and democracy, and making sure we don’t become a nation ruled by fear.” She said she was specifically interested in keeping Republican Doug Mastriano from winning the governor’s race. She declined to be named.
7:55 a.m., Squirrel Hill South: Jonathan and Amy Rhodes voted together at the Summerset Community Center. “We vote every time, this is our routine,” they said when asked what drove them to the polls this year. They voted Republican up and down the ticket but said they were most eager to vote for the GOP’s Mehmet Oz for Senate. “He stands for what I believe in and I’m not a [Lieut. Gov. John] Fetterman fan at all,” Jonathan said. Fetterman, who previously served as Braddock’s mayor, is the Democratic nominee facing Oz.
7:37 a.m., Downtown: In elections, Nicholas Fisfis said he generally looks for candidates with “qualifications and good intent.” Though he doesn’t view Democrat John Fetterman as the perfect candidate for senator, Fisfis believes he cares about the state. “I don’t want a senator from New Jersey,” Fisfis said, referring to Republican opponent Mehmet Oz, a longtime resident of New Jersey who has said he moved to Pennsylvania in late 2020. “I’d rather have someone who cares about the people here than cares about themselves,” he added.
Fisfis, who voted in Downtown Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning, cares about the economy and said he believes the country needs to provide an improved education to students to help foster prosperity. “People are focusing on the wrong things,” he said, specifically criticizing efforts to ban books. “The focus on things like what kids could possibly read but aren’t actually reading over introducing them earlier to mathematics and science and biology is going to hurt us in the long run.”
7:28 a.m., Downtown: Jennifer Poulsen choked up as she spoke about her reason for coming to the polls. A mother to four daughters, Poulsen believes abortion is a fundamental right and said that this is “one of the most important elections we have. … We, as women, have the rights – should have the rights – to do with our bodies what we want to do,” she said. Her daughters, who range in age from 21 to 28, are voting today as well, but they didn’t need any encouragement from their mother to do so, Poulsen said.
7:25 a.m., Downtown: Jazmyn Stokes voted at the Downtown branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh within half an hour of polls opening. The rights of women and people of marginalized identities shaped her choices, she said. She felt particularly empowered by Summer Lee, the Democratic candidate for U.S. House District 12. “Me being a Black woman, looking up to someone like that, it’s nice to see,” she said. “When you have that voice in a position of power like that, they’re able to kind of make what you might be experiencing heard.”
7:25 a.m., Oakmont: Rachel Gourley, a resident of Oakmont for six years and a food buyer for a grocery store by trade, said she was drawn out to vote for women’s rights and to support John Fetterman and especially Josh Shapiro. “I wanted to make sure I showed up in person, I felt like that was a little more concrete,” said Gourley of her decision to vote before work.
7:06 a.m., Oakmont: People line up to enter the polling location at the United Methodist Church of Oakmont as the polls open early Tuesday morning on Election Day.
How to vote today
Registered voters can vote today until 8 p.m. Use this tool to find out where your polling location is. Click here to see a sample ballot and do some last-minute research before heading to vote.
Mail-in ballots must be delivered to the County Office Building, Downtown at 542 Forbes Ave., before 8 p.m. today. It will not count if the county does not receive it by 8 p.m. Ballots put into the mail today will not count.
Allegheny County on Sunday released a list of 1,005 voters who submitted mail-in ballots that were undated or incorrectly dated. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that these ballots should not count, but counties can allow voters to correct their errors before polls close Tuesday. Voters can check this website to see if their ballot needs to be corrected. Corrections can be made at the County Office Building at 542 Forbes Ave. between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday. Alternatively, affected voters can go to their normal polling place and ask to vote via a provisional ballot.
Any voter with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act can designate somebody else to deliver their ballot using this form.
Contacting us, reviewing our coverage
We’d welcome your insights on any notable strengths or weaknesses in today’s democratic process.
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This story was written by PublicSource staff including Charlie Wolfson, Stephanie Strasburg, Emma Folts, Lajja Mistry, Amelia Winger, Eric Jankiewicz, Jourdan Hicks, Aavin Mangalmurti, Halle Stockton and Rich Lord.
If you have questions or comments, contact managing editor Rich Lord at email@example.com or on Twitter @richelord.
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