Nov 07, 2016

Make the Most of the 2016 Election

Alexandra FabianBy Alexandra C. Fabian, manager – government relations

The U.S. presidential election has been the centerpiece of the fall political calendar. Pennsylvania, a “battleground” state, is critical in the race for the White House, and the issues at stake are very important. (For example, to see information on each candidate’s tax plans, please read PICPA member Nancy G. Montanye’s informative analysis.) But it is equally important for voters to understand that some of the most impactful work will happen in the chambers of the state legislature, and the offices of state and local officials who run our state’s agencies and departments.

As you prepare to vote, here is a rundown of key races and a list of voter resources.

U.S. Senate

A hotly contested statewide Senate race is taking place between freshman incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey and a Democrat looking to become Pennsylvania's first female senator, Katie McGinty. This race is considered one of the most competitive U.S. Senate campaigns in the country. At varying times, polls have favored both candidates. Toomey is a fiscal conservative and McGinty, former chief of staff for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, has cast herself as a champion of the middle class.

All of Pennsylvania’s 18 U.S. Congressional districts are also up for reelection.

Row Offices

Due to the fall of former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was found guilty of perjury and criminal conspiracy, an open seat battle is playing out between two Montgomery County candidates. Democrat Josh Shapiro, a county commissioner and former state representative, faces off against Republican John Rafferty, a state senator since 2003 and former deputy attorney general.

In addition, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat, is running for reelection against Republican John Brown. An open seat race for state treasurer pits Democrat Joe Torsella against Republican Otto Voit.

Pennsylvania General Assembly

All 203 seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are up for grabs, including our four CPA lawmakers – Reps. John Maher, Mike Peifer, George Dunbar, and Keith Greiner. Half of the state Senate is up for reelection too. Frank Ryan, CPA, who is running for an open seat in Lebanon County, has a good chance of becoming our fifth CPA legislator in the House. There are 19 open House seats and four open Senate seats. The current makeup of the House is 119 Republicans and 84 Democrats. The Republican majority in both chambers is not expected to change as a result of the election.

Ballot Question

All Pennsylvania voters will be asked to decide whether the Pennsylvania Constitution should be amended to extend the maximum age for judges, including those on the state Supreme Court, from 70 years to 75 years. All voters should take note that this question would not establish an age limit. It would raise the existing one. The question essentially comes down to whether or not voters believe a judge can carry out his or her duties at 75.

Voter Resources

Polls in Pennsylvania are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Anyone in line by 8 p.m. must be allowed to vote. You can find your polling place here.

You can learn where candidates running for office in your community stand on the issues here. You can print or e-mail the information to use as a reference.

Another helpful resource on the candidates is offered by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. See its Nonpartisan Voters Guide to the 2016 election.

Additional resources are also available on Crowdpac and Ballotpedia.


As you are considering your role in the upcoming election, remember the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting."

Please feel free to contact me at afabian@picpa.org or (717) 232-1821 if you would like additional resources.

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