2020 Pennsylvania Election Guide

On Nov. 3, 2020, Pennsylvanians go to the polls to elect a president, representatives to U.S. Congress, Pennsylvania row officers, and the state General Assembly. This year’s election may be one of the most unpredictable in a generation. The PICPA offers this straightforward guide to the races with downloadable Excel sheets linking campaign websites by last name.

In preparation for the general election, Pennsylvanians should identify their state and federal legislators, locate their polling place, and consult the links below for comprehensive platform information.
                

Deadlines for the November 3 General Election: 

Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. - Applications for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board or other designated locations.

Nov. 3 - Deadline for returning your voted mail-in or absentee ballot. A mail-in ballot must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day and received by your county election office by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6 to be counted. If returning your mail-in ballot in person, you must return the ballot to your county election office or other designated location by 8 p.m. on election day.

Nov. 6 - Mail-in ballots (postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day) must be received by the county election office by 5 p.m.

Consult Pennsylvania’s Official Voter Information Website for more details.

Not voting in person? Track your ballot status here.

Find Your Legislators         Locate Your Polling Place

Comparing the Candidates’ Tax and Economic Visions


A few weeks remain before the 2020 presidential election. If you are still weighing which candidate to vote for, this blog provides a comparison of President Donald Trump’s tax plan vision for 2021 and what former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed.

Read now >

Overview of Key 2020 Races 

Presidential

President Donald Trump (R-Incumbent)

Donald Trump

By Donald J. Trump for President:

Donald Trump, a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance, has always dreamed big and pushed the boundaries of what is possible in his life and in building businesses. This no-holds-barred attitude inspired his candidacy for President of the United States in 2015 and ultimately led to one of the most unique campaigns in history. Trump followed no rule book and took his “Make America Great Again” message directly to the people, eventually winning the presidency against Hillary Clinton in November 2016. 
 
Tax reform was a keystone issue for the president, and in December 2017 the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed into law. According to taxfoundation.org, “It made several significant changes to the individual income tax, including reforms to itemized deductions and the alternative minimum tax, an expanded standard deduction and child tax credit, and lower marginal tax rates across brackets.” 
 
Trump’s vision for a second term includes creating 10 million new jobs, expanding opportunity zones, and offering tax credits for American companies that bring back jobs from China. He also continues to work on repealing the Affordable Care Act, curtailing regulations, reducing immigration, strengthening law enforcement, and negotiating trade deals.
 
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Joe Biden (D-Challenger)

Joe Biden

By Biden for President:

Joe Biden was born in Scranton, Pa., and at age 10 moved to Claymont, Del. He practiced law at a firm in Wilmington while also working part-time as a public defender. At age 29, Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate where he later took part in a delegation sent to Moscow to present U.S. conditions for the ratification of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.

As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee for 16 years, Biden spearheaded the Violence Against Women Act. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years, he played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy.

As vice president, Biden led on many issues facing the nation and represented our country abroad. In addition, he convened sessions of President Obama’s cabinet, led interagency efforts, and worked with Congress to raise middle-class living standards and reduce gun violence. President Obama turned to Biden to help pass and then oversee the implementation of the 2009 Recovery Act—the biggest economic recovery plan in the history of the nation. 

On April 25, 2019, Biden announced his candidacy. His plans include increasing the minimum wage to $15, protecting Social Security and the Affordable Care Act, and strengthening Medicare. He also seeks to invest in community colleges and training to improve student success. Biden will pay for these programs by reversing the 2017 tax cuts and eliminating capital gains loopholes.  

Jo Jorgensen (L-Challenger)

Jorgensen, Jo 2020

By Jo Jorgensen for President:

Jo Jorgensen has been a full-time senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University since 2006 and holds a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology. She has been a marketing representative for IBM, started her own software sales business, and later founded a business consulting firm. She was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District in 1992, and was that party’s vice presidential nominee with Harry Browne in 1996. 

Jorgensen’s platform includes allowing real price competition to reduce the cost of health care. She will work to remove government barriers to replacing coal-burning and oil-burning power plants in the U.S. with high-tech nuclear power plants and off-grid use of solar power. She will seek to eliminate trade barriers and tariffs, and work to repeal arbitrary quotas on the number of people who can legally enter the United States. As president, she would work to eliminate the Department of Education and return control of education to parents and teachers.
 
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Howie Hawkins (G-Challenger)

Hawkins, Howie 2020

By Howie Hawkins 2020:

Howie Hawkins is an original Green Party member, having participated in the first national meeting to organize a U.S. Green Party in St. Paul, Minn., in 1984. Hawkins became an advocate for civil rights and opposed the war in Vietnam in the 1960s, yet served in Marine Corps when his draft number was called in 1972. While enlisted he continued to oppose the war. Hawkins has been a constant organizer in peace, justice, union, and environmental campaigns.

Hawkins’ platform includes support for open borders, a community-controlled national health service, and giving educational policy power back to teachers and parents. He favors a ban on military assault-style weapons, universal background checks for buyers of guns and ammunition, and required safety tests prior to purchase. He also supports legalizing marijuana use and decriminalizing possession of hard drugs. Priorities include building an ecosocialist economic structure and incorporating international cooperative security to lessen the threat of nuclear war.


Attorney General

The attorney general is an elected constitutional office in the executive branch of the Pennsylvania state government. He or she serves as the chief law enforcement officer of Pennsylvania and represents the state and its agencies in any action brought by or against them. Additionally, the attorney general is responsible for collecting all debts, taxes, and accounts due to the state.

The attorney general serves as a member of boards and commissions, including the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Board of Pardons, the Board of Finance and Revenue, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission, and the Mid-Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network.

Josh Shaprio (D-Incumbent)

Shapiro_Josh

By Shapiro for Pennsylvania:

Josh Shapiro has risen above politics time and again to take on the status quo and protect everyday Pennsylvanians.

As a state representative, Josh wrote and passed some of the toughest ethics laws in state history. Philadelphia Magazine wrote that Josh was “a blast of oxygen in the smoke-choked back rooms of quid-pro-quo Harrisburg,” and his work earned him a national reputation as a bipartisan consensus builder.

Then, as chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners, he led a fiscal and ethical turnaround, took early steps to combat the heroin epidemic, helped the first LGBT couples in Pennsylvania marry, and fired Wall Street money managers to save retirees millions. His work on behalf of victims and for criminal justice reform as chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency earned him the trust of law enforcement leaders from both parties.

As attorney general, Josh has restored integrity to the office and is standing up for the rule of law and safeguarding Pennsylvanians’ rights — no matter what they look like, who they love, or who they pray or don’t pray to.

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Heather Heidelbaugh (R-Challenger)

heidelbaugh_heather

By Heidelbaugh for Pennsylvania:

Heather Heidelbaugh worked her way through law school, and became one of the most respected litigators in Pennsylvania – leaving shards of the glass-ceiling far below her. In 1988, Heather moved to Pittsburgh, where she quickly became a partner in her law firm at 30 years old.

Heather’s work in law and policy led to her appointment to the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Appointments in 1998. In 2005, the administration of then-President George W. Bush invited her to the White House to interview for an appointment to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Two decades later, Heather became the chair of the state advisory commission on selection of a U.S. attorney, U.S. marshall, and federal judiciary. 

In the ensuing years, Heather served in a variety of party and civic posts and became a familiar face and voice on the city’s television and radio talk shows, where she provided political analysis. Her recognized expertise made her a natural for the GOP nomination for Allegheny County Council’s at-large seat.

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Daniel Wassmer (L-Challenger)

Daniel WassmerBy wassmer4pa.com

Daniel Wassmer, a Pike County resident, is running as the Libertarian candidate for state attorney general. He has a master’s degree in business administration from Adelphi University and a JD degree from New York Law School. He is an educator and attorney with first-hand experience in a court room.
 
As attorney general he would seek to achieve prosecution, police, and prison reforms, in part by decriminalizing what he observes as victimless crimes. He also seeks election law reform as he has experience having to fight for access to being on the ballot as a third-party candidate. Wassmer would also pursue an end to corporate anti-trust concerns.

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Richard Weiss (G-Challenger)

Richard WeissBy A Green Pennsylvania:

Richard L. Weiss supports criminal justice reform, including ending cash bail, decriminalizing drug use and sex work, and establishing citizens' police review boards with strong police professionalism standards.

Weiss was born in Pittsburgh, and has worked as an attorney for the federal government in Washington, D.C,. at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and in Indonesia on financing for development projects. He possesses a JD from the University of Denver, a master of laws in international legal studies from American University in Washington, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

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Auditor General

The Pennsylvania auditor general is an elected position in the Pennsylvania state government. The auditor general serves as the commonwealth's fiscal watchdog, ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. This year there is no incumbent running for reelection.

Dr. Nina Ahmad (D)

Nina Ahmad

By Nina for PA:

Dr. Nina Ahmad is a strong advocate for women and communities of color. As a catalyst for change, she served for nearly half a decade as president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and she is honored to still serve as a national board member. Nina has also served on local nonprofit boards and been a leader in her community. As a small-business owner, she’s spurred good jobs with union-generated and labor-built partnerships, and has made key decisions on community investments.

Most recently, Nina served as a deputy mayor for public engagement under Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, where she was responsible for managing dynamic people and initiatives, and participated in the management of a $4 billion operating budget in public funds. Nina has also worked closely with officials like Mayor Michael Nutter and Gov. Tom Wolf. She’s fostered initiatives including launching the city’s Commission for Women, fighting for pay equity, and working to end workplace harassment. Nina gathered support for reform and opportunity through the city’s Youth Commission, the Office of Black Male Engagement, and the office of LGBT affairs.

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Timothy L. DeFoor (R)

DeFoor-Timothy

By Friends of Timothy L. DeFoor:

Timothy DeFoor, Dauphin County controller, was recently elected to a second term. He is a forensic auditor and investigator with over 25 years of experience in forensic audit investigations, contractual compliance, and regulatory compliance in both private and public sectors. He created Dauphin County’s first audit division, recovered and saved Dauphin County taxpayers over $1 million since taking office in January 2016, and changed how the county reports its finances from an independent audit to a more detailed and transparent comprehensive annual financial report. He also started the Dauphin County Controllers’ Financial Literacy initiative with Harrisburg University. 

With his extensive background in law enforcement, his involvement in the community, and current role as Dauphin County’s controller, he has become an effective leader who has a unique perspective on the problems that Pennsylvania faces. 

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Olivia Faison (G)

Olivia FaisonBy A Green Pennsylvania:

Olivia Faison is a third generation Philadelphian and chair of the Health Center #4 Advisory Committee. She is also secretary on the board of directors for the City of Philadelphia Health Centers. Faison is an entrepreneur currently forging business relations with Mozambique. She is most proud of being a block captain, which puts her in touch with the needs of her neighbors and community. She has served as an inspector of elections at her polling place since 2008.

A vote for Faison is a vote for left-leaning Pennsylvanians who demand that the people and planet come first. She is a scientist and an ally for the Green New Deal.

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Jennifer Moore (L)

Jennifer MooreBy onyourballot.vote411.org:

Jennifer Moore, a resident of Montgomery County, has a master’s of business administration from Grand Valley State University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration management also from Grand Valley.

Moore has been chair of the board of auditors in Upper Providence Township since 2017. She has spent 20 years in health care finance.

Her top concerns should she be elected include promoting transparency to the taxpayers by outlining where their tax dollars are going. She would like to make COVID-19 funding audits a priority, and also seeks to combat government waste and inefficiency.

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Treasurer

The Pennsylvania treasurer is an elected, executive-level position within the state government. The treasurer is the chief financial officer of the government, responsible for managing the commonwealth's money and serving as Pennsylvania's banker.

Joseph M. Torsella (D-Incumbent)

Joe-Torsella

By Friends of Joe Torsella:

Ambassador (Ret.) Joseph M. Torsella is a successful civic leader who will continue to bring integrity, energy, and vision to the office of Pennsylvania treasurer.

Joe is the kind of commonsense problem-solver needed in public life. Because Treasury manages $100 billion in public funds and has pre-audit authority over every single check the Commonwealth issues, it’s an ideal platform for someone with Joe’s record of bringing efficiency, sound management, and innovation to the public sector - themes of Joe’s career.

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Stacy Garrity (R-Challenger)

Stacy-GarrityBy Garrity for PA:

Retired Army Reserve Col. Stacy Garrity’s life story is exemplified by her role as a trailblazing businesswoman and her service on the battlefields of Iraq.

While serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, Garrity started work as a cost accountant at Global Tungsten & Powders Corp., where she was later named a vice president. She also serves on the board of Bradford County United Way and is a trustee of Guthrie Hospital. 

Garrity’s service in the Army Reserve brought her to national attention. Amid scandals about prisoner abuse at other facilities, the national media highlighted her stellar performance as one of the officers in charge of an internment camp for enemy combatants in Iraq.

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Timothy Runkle (G-Challenger)

Tim RunkleBy A Green Pennsylvania:

Timothy Runkle graduated from Millersville University with a bachelor’s degree in geology. He currently works in the environmental consulting industry as a senior project manager resolving client risks and liabilities.

Runkle is presently in his second term as treasurer for the Green Party of Pennsylvania and co-chairs the Lancaster County Green Party. 

According to Runkle’s Facebook page, he intends to use his office to push forward an agenda that considers how we can prepare Pennsylvania for a Green New Deal by investing in sustainable jobs and eliminating industry handouts, restructuring an outdated tax code, and reforming the criminal justice system by ending cash bail and reducing incarceration and recidivism.

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Joseph Soloski (L-Challenger)

Joseph SoloskiBy joesoloski.com:

Joe Soloski has been in public accounting since 1979. He managed his own accounting firm in the Pittsburgh area for 27 years. He has also served as comptroller for companies in the publication and construction industries and been a financial analyst for companies in the scientific instruments and public transportation industries.

Having moved to Centre County in 2013, Soloski now lives in Halfmoon Township. He serves on the board of directors of Bridge of Hope/Centre County and is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Centre County.

As the Libertarian candidate for state treasurer, Soloski believes in the principles of limited government and minimum government spending as the best way to maximize the freedom and personal liberties of each resident of Pennsylvania.

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U.S. Congressional 

As of 2018, Pennsylvania has a new Congressional district map.

Find more information about the districts >>

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Spotlight: Active and Former CPAs Seeking Election or Reelection in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Rep. George Dunbar, CPA (Inactive) (R-Westmoreland)

Rep DunbarAs a public servant, inactive CPA, and successful entrepreneur, Rep. George Dunbar brings a combination of real-life experience and commitment to integrity to his role as a state lawmaker.

Dunbar was sworn in to serve his fifth term as state representative for the 56th Legislative District in January 2019. During the 2019-2020 session, Dunbar was appointed to serve as majority vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

In addition, he is a member of the House Commerce and Finance committees.
 
In 2018, the PICPA worked with Dunbar to pass legislation providing consistency to the local earned income tax crediting provisions to protect taxpayers from double taxation.

Rep. Keith Greiner, CPA (R-Lancaster)

Rep. Keith GreinerRep. Keith Greiner has been a champion of the CPA profession as a member of the Pennsylvania House for the 43rd district. He sponsored PICPA-proposed amendments to the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act, which are now Acts 71 and 72 of 2017. 

He is also a subcommittee chair on the House Appropriations committee.

In 2019, Greiner helped the PICPA achieve a legislative victory in the current fiscal year tax bill. House Bill 706 was amended into omnibus legislation, House Bill 262, and was signed into law as Act 13.

Rep. Mike Peifer, CPA (Inactive) (R-Pike)

Rep PeiferRep. Mike Peifer is serving a seventh term representing the 139th district. Peifer pursued his accounting career with Price Waterhouse LLP, qualifying as a CPA in 1991 and rising to senior tax consultant. In 1995 he returned to Greentown to open his own firm. He was first elected in 2006. 

In the 2019-2020 legislative session, he was appointed as the majority chair of the House Finance Committee.

The PICPA is working with Peifer to provide several necessary updates to our state’s CPA Law. We seek to codify the nationally recognized Code of Professional Conduct standard, expand the scope of classes students can take toward earning an accounting degree, and strengthen peer review requirements for CPA firms.
 

Rep. Frank Ryan, CPA (R-Lebanon)

Rep Frank RyanElected to the state House in 2016, Rep. Frank Ryan is a CPA and a retired Marine Reserve colonel. Ryan was recalled to active duty in 2004 and served with Multi-National Force-Iraq until June 2005. Prior to his initial retirement in 2002, Ryan served as the Central Command Special Operations Officer during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Ryan is a fiscal conservative, an expert in corporate restructurings and management, and a member of the House Finance Committee.

The PICPA worked with Ryan on Act 90 of 2019 amending Pennsylvania’s tax code to help both taxpayers and practitioners deal with unnerving past-tax-owed letters from the Department of Revenue. In many cases, these notices were for decades-old tax filings. The provisions go into effect in 2021.

Rep. Ben Sanchez, CPA (Inactive) (D-Montgomery)

Sanchez-BenRep. Ben Sanchez was elected to represent the 153rd Legislative District in Montgomery County in 2018. As a lifelong district resident, he understands his diverse community and continues to build on his record of fighting for the hardworking residents of Abington and Upper Dublin.

Prior to being elected to the legislature, Sanchez worked as a CPA, an attorney, and an adjunct professor of law at Drexel University, and has served Abington Township as Commissioner for Ward 7.

Sanchez serves on the House Appropriations Committee.
 

Nick Pisciottano, CPA

Nick Pisciottano Nick Pisciottano, CPA, is running for the seat held by retiring Rep. Bill Kortz in the 38th district in Allegheny County.  He works as a CPA and auditor, and volunteers as president of the West Mifflin Community Foundation and as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh.

As president of the Community Foundation, he’s led the organization as it provided free books to students learning to read, hosted free brunch and bingo events for senior citizens, and organized the efforts to raise funding to convert a local park into a dog park with the assistance of local and corporate donors. 

Pisciottano's platform includes helping community leaders invest in new technologies to spur job growth, protecting workers' rights, developing an economic development plan for the expansion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, and education reform.

Pennsylvania State Senate

The Pennsylvania State Senate is the upper chamber of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Alongside the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, it forms the legislative branch of Pennsylvania state government and works alongside the governor of Pennsylvania to create laws and establish a state budget. Legislative authority and responsibilities of the Pennsylvania State Senate include passing bills on public policy matters, setting levels for state spending, raising and lowering taxes, and voting to uphold or override gubernatorial vetoes. Senators are elected for four-year terms, staggered every two years such that half of the seats are contested at a time. In 2020, odd numbered districts are up for reelection. 

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Pennsylvania State House of Representatives

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Alongside the Pennsylvania State Senate, it forms the legislative branch of Pennsylvania state government and works alongside the governor of Pennsylvania to create laws and establish a state budget. Legislative authority and responsibilities of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives include passing bills on public policy matters, setting levels for state spending, raising and lowering taxes, and voting to uphold or override gubernatorial vetoes. All 203 House seats are up for reelection for a two-year term in 2020.

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