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The Primaries: What You Need To Know

90.5 WESA

May 15, the day campaigns have had circled on their calendars for months, is finally here. On Tuesday, Pennsylvanians will head to the polls and vote. If you don't know where to vote, or who you can vote for, here's what you need to know.

Am I eligible to vote?

If you registered to vote as a Republican or Democrat before April 16th, you can vote for candidates within your party. If you’re registered as an Independent, you are able to vote on some ballot initiatives.

Who's on the ballot?

U.S. Congress: There are elections for both the House and Senate. Per the U.S. Constitution, all the seats for the U.S. House of Representatives are up this year. Candidates will be running in the newly redrawn districts (more on that below). One U.S. Senate seat is up this year -- Democratic Senator Bob Casey (no one is running against him in the primary) will face whoever wins the Republican primary (either Lou Barletta or Jim Christiana).

In Western Pennsylvania, you’ll most likely be voting in the new 14th, 17th or 18th districts.

In the 14th, the Democrats are Bibiana Boerio, Adam Sedlock, Bob Solomon and Tom Prigg. The Republicans are Rick Saccone (who lost to Conor Lamb in the nationally watched special election) and Guy Reschenthaler. You can read more of our coverage of those candidates here.

In the 17th, Democratic Congressman Conor Lamb is running against Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus. There are no other candidates on the ballot in this district, but WESA's An-Li Herring has reported that it will probably be a competitive race.  

In the 18th district, Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle is being challenged by fellow Democrat Janis Brooks. 

Governor: There are three Republicans running for governor: Paul Mango, Scott Wagner, and Laura Ellsworth. The winner will run against Democratic Governor Tom Wolf in November.

Lieutenant Governor: There are five Democrats running for the job, including Democratic incumbent Mike Stack. Four Republicans are also running. You can read more about them here.

State Legislative Races: All seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are up for reelection this year, as is half of the State Senate.  In the State House, there are 119 Republicans and 81 Democrats, and three vacant seats. In the Senate there are 34 Republicans and 16 Democrats. If you're really curious, check out this list of races.

You can also look at sample ballots.

Where do I vote?

This is the first primary that will adhere to the new Congressional Districts drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this year. So while your polling place won't change, if you live in Allegheny County, you will be voting in the newly drawn 18th district, or the new 17th district.  The 18th district includes Pittsburgh, the Mon Valley, and other areas south and east of Pittsburgh. The 17th district includes suburban areas north and west of Pittsburgh, and some parts of the South Hills.

You can look at your new district here and you can figure out where to go vote by entering your address here.

Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at
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