Dispatches from the polls: PA votes to shift emergency powers; Pittsburgh City Council incumbent keep their seats

PublicSource will be updating this story throughout Election Day and monitoring as results come in. Wednesday results updates:

On Pittsburgh City Council —

Two City Councilors facing challengers in their reelection bids, Theresa Kail-Smith and Anthony Coghill, won by comfortable margins. Kail-Smith, the council president who has represented District 2 since 2009, defeated Jacob Williamson with 69% of the vote with 38 of 41 precincts reporting Wednesday morning. Coghill won a second four-year term representing District 4, capturing 62% of the vote to defeat Bethani Cameron with all precincts reporting. On state ballot questions —

Pennsylvania voters approved two proposed constitutional amendments that will shift power from the governor to the Legislature when it comes to declaring, extending and ending states of emergency.

Headshot photos of Mayor Bill Peduto and state Rep. Ed Gainey. Peduto wears glasses and a gray blazer. Gainey wears a black vest and gray shirt.

More than $1 million has gone into Pittsburgh’s mayoral race. Where did it come from?

Tuesday marks the end of Pittsburgh’s contentious mayoral race in which incumbent Bill Peduto and leading challenger state Rep. Ed Gainey raised more than $1.2 million combined in campaign funds since Jan. 1. The financial records of their campaigns show markedly different strategies and donor bases. While Peduto holds a major financial advantage, raising far more money and pulling in tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-state contributions, Gainey leads in small donations and has more evenly dispersed support across the city. PublicSource analyzed each candidate’s donations.

An application for a mail-in ballot on a tan clipboard.

Election week was stressful in Pennsylvania. Will future elections look the same?

Pennsylvania was shoved into the spotlight of the week-long, real-life drama of an election unlike any other in modern history. Counties worked around the clock for days to tabulate a record number of mail-in ballots, and the nation waited to learn the fate of the commonwealth’s 20 electoral votes. Cable news viewers across the world became intimately familiar with local geography, such as the voting tendencies of Philadelphia’s “collar counties” and Erie’s status as a presidential bellwether. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman caught national attention for saying that President Donald Trump could “sue a ham sandwich” and that every vote would be counted despite Trump’s protests. 

Is this our new normal? Every four years, will the country watch as Pennsylvania spends five days, or more, counting mail-in ballots?

A person walking in front of a sign that says "Voting place."

PA won’t see full results on election night. Experts urge trust in the process anyway.

On election night in 2016, voters across the country stayed up into the early morning hours awaiting the presidential election results. The race was a nail-biter, but at 2:30 a.m. — six and a half hours after polls in Pennsylvania closed — the Associated Press called the election for Donald Trump. The timing of election night on Nov. 3 will likely be very different. With more than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians requesting mail-in ballots as of Oct.

A sign pointing voters to the mail-in ballot drop-off box in the lobby of the Allegheny County Office Building. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Allegheny County voters identify 5 issues to address before November presidential election

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd, a brand new statewide mail-in voting system and a last-minute deadline extension, the Pennsylvania primary election on June 2 faced unprecedented challenges. Some voters felt confident with their experience voting by mail, while others worried if their vote would be counted. For some in-person voters, the process didn't differ much from normal; others were frustrated over changes in polling locations and worried about a lack of social distancing. Anrica Caldwell of Penn Hills called mail-in voting “easy, safe and a convenient way to continue to exercise your right to vote.”

Ethan Boyle of the Strip District also said he voted by mail without any issues. “I think the process went smoothly,” he said.

Ballot scanning machines set up in preparation for the June 2 primary election in Allegheny County. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Gov. Wolf extends vote-by-mail deadline in Allegheny, five other counties through June 9

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday evening, the night before the primary election, that he is extending the vote-by-mail deadline by a week for six counties, including Allegheny County. The new deadline for ballots to be received in those counties is 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, per an executive order. But ballots must still be postmarked by Tuesday, June 2, according to the press release. “I can’t do anything about the election day, but I am extending the time to actually get votes in,” he said. “So if you vote, and your vote gets in by next Tuesday… it’ll count.”

The previous deadline to receive mail-in ballots was 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 2.The announcement came as a surprise to many, including local officials: Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs was not aware of the extension when PublicSource contacted her Monday evening to confirm.