Election Day in Pittsburgh: High voter turnout, congressional district confusion, illegal freebies

Control of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate is on the line today.

Voters stand in line inside the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 18 on Northumberland Street in Squirrel on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Voters stand in line inside the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Station 18 on Northumberland Street in Squirrel on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.


Editor’s note: We’ll provide live updates here all day (*bookmark it now*), including everything from official dispatches and troubleshooting tips to results.

3 governor tom wolf election 2018
Incline Illustration / Photo: Governor Tom Wolf Facebook

Democrat Tom Wolf wins a second term as Pa. governor with running mate John Fetterman

Wolf defeated Republican Scott Wagner, multiple networks predict. Read more here.

— Sarah Anne Hughes, 9:09 p.m. 

1 senate bob casey election 2018
Incline Illustration / Photo: Bob Casey Campaign Facebook

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey wins a third term, besting Trump-backed opponent in Pennsylvania

Republican Congressman Lou Barletta fell to the incumbent. Read more here.

— Michaela Winberg and Max Marin, 9:05 p.m.

A Ross Township polling location on Election Day 2018

A Ross Township polling location on Election Day 2018

MJ Slaby / The Incline

Even ahead of the post-work rush, campaign workers outside Ross Township polling places said turnout has been higher than usual.

Campaign signs lined walkways where volunteers passed out flyers to Ross voters deciding in multiple contested races, including the only challenged race for state Senate in Allegheny County, the District 38 contest between Lindsey Williams (D) and Jeremy Shaffer (R). The pair met for just one debate during a heated race.

Voters who spoke to The Incline stressed the importance of voting in every election, but said this one felt especially important.

Erica Johnson said that’s because she’s having her first child next year, so lawmakers’ decisions not only impact her, but her child’s life. She added that she also hopes to see more diversity — whether that’s women and/or minorities — in office after this election.

Also in Ross, voter Amy Cooknick said she was paying attention to women’s issues, healthcare and education, noting that social media has contributed to making this election feel more intense.

“But it’s always important to vote … If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” Cooknick said.

MJ Slaby, 5:14 p.m.

An increase in absentee ballots

Allegheny County reported this afternoon that absentee ballot voting was higher than the three previous midterm elections and that it is looking into a possible electioneering issue at a Pittsburgh polling location and working to reconcile elections-related issues in five eastern municipalities affected by a power outage.

Two people went to elections court for emergency ballots today after not receiving their absentee ballots by mail. The county stressed that absentee balloting in Pennsylvania relies heavily on the U.S. Postal Service, and voters are encouraged to apply early and in person. Total absentee ballots are up this year, per the county:

  • This year: 26,840
  • 2014: 10,295
  • 2010: 18,127
  • 2006: 23,789

The county also said it was looking into a “Vote Straight Democrat” sign outside a door at Pittsburgh 19-9 after 1 p.m. The sign was removed, but “it is not clear from the picture or video whether the sign was put up in violation of Election Code provisions related to electioneering within 10’ of a polling place, but we will look into further,” per the county.

Baldwin Borough 0-5; North Versailles 6-1 and 6-2; Pleasant Hills 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4 and 0-10; Plum 0-1 and 0-19; and Whitehall 0-5, 0-6, 0-9 and 0-12 are without power following a transformer failing on Old Clairton Road. “All voting machines have battery back-ups and the teams are working with the utility on the restoration of power,” the county said.

Lexi Belculfine, 4:04 p.m.

Some voters in Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Oakland, and East Liberty received these stickers at the polls.

Some voters in Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Oakland, and East Liberty received these stickers at the polls.

Colin Deppen / The Incline

15,000 Pittsburgh voters will get special-edition ‘Stronger Than Hate’ stickers

They were distributed at polling locations in East Liberty, Oakland, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Read more here.

Rossilynne Culgan, 2:27 p.m.

High turnout, vote switching, and an ‘impaired’ judge

High voter turnout is anecdotally being reported across the county, per a lunchtime update from Allegheny County.

The county also noted vote switching issues at four polling locations and a judge of elections in Ingram being removed following “claims that she was impaired.”

County technicians have been sent to Moon 6, Plum 20, South Fayette 6 and West Deer 7 following reports of vote switching, when “a voter selects one candidate and another is chosen instead.” Machines will be recalibrated if necessary, the county said.

Also, the judge of elections in Ingram 0-1 was brought before election court on claims she was impaired, but told Judge Joseph M. James she was fine but had issues at home. She was removed from duty and taken home, and another poll worker was assigned to that role.

“I can’t say that she was under the influence. I can just say it was deemed by the judge that she was unfit to serve as the judge of elections,” Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Kraus told the Post-Gazette.

Lexi Belculfine, 1:52 p.m.

Congressional district confusion

Still confused about which new congressional district you live in?

You’re not alone.

The Incline heard from a reader who said he lived in the new 17th District and was given the wrong ballot. He doesn’t and wasn’t, according to an Allegheny County spokesperson, but the confusion is more than understandable.

After the January ruling from the Pa. Supreme Court, the Department of State published an interactive map to help people figure out which new district they live in.

But there’s an important note below the map:

In counties that are split, the interactive map below will be sufficient for many voters to identify their district.

Voters who are unsure of their congressional district, or if they live in a split municipality or ward,  should call their county election office to check their new district by residential address.

The reader fell into the split municipality category, with just a handful of blocks from his district falling into the new 18th.

So what should you do if you think you’re given the wrong ballot?

Ask the poll workers for help or call the Allegheny County election line at 412-350-4500. If you still need assistance, we’re here to help get you an answer.

Sarah Anne Hughes, 12:52 p.m.

Friendly reminder

Reminder: Even though it is generous to want to reward people for voting, it is also illegal.

Sarah Anne Hughes, 11:40 a.m.

A makeshift vigil for victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting greets voters at the JCC Squirrel Hill polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

A makeshift vigil for victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting greets voters at the JCC Squirrel Hill polling place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.


Election Day in Squirrel Hill: A referendum on Trump 10 days after Pittsburgh’s tragedy

“This is absolutely a referendum on Trump in a community that has been devastated by hatred and bigotry that he has unleashed,” one voter said. Read more here.

Colin Deppen, 11:14 a.m.

Polling place issues this morning

With a few exceptions, polls opened at 7 a.m. for voters, per Allegheny County officials.

Allegheny County reported the following issues:

  • Bellevue 1-2: A judge overslept and the polling place opened late.
  • Collier 0-1: Only one board member showed up, and extras have been sent.
  • McCandless 1-1: The polling place opened at 7:15 a.m., and paper ballots were used until that time.
  • Pittsburgh 4-10 and 4-11: Voting started late due to issues with opening the machine.
  • Pittsburgh 14-34: A judge had a medical emergency last night and is still hospitalized. The polling place opened and voters are voting on emergency ballots with an interim judge. Staff are en route to pick up a suitcase and deliver it to the polling place to open the machines.

Rossilynne Culgan, 10:30 a.m.

No ballots at this Squirrel Hill polling place

A Squirrel Hill polling place has no ballots. Voters at the neighborhood’s Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh branch are now being offered emergency ballots, ward chair Sam Hens-Greco told The Incline.

Emergency ballots will be sealed and taken Downtown after the polls close. Voting machines are expected to be up-and-running as soon as possible.

Colin Deppen, 8:30 a.m.

Polls are now open

Today, voters across Pennsylvania and the nation will head to the polls to cast their ballots in the first midterm election of the Trump presidency. Control of the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate is on the line.

In Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, voters will have a say in races to help determine where the balance of power lies in those institutions. They’ll also have a say in equally important state races, statewide races — governor, anyone? — and at least one ballot question.

Start here

Before you go anywhere, or certainly before you arrive at the voting booth, be sure to check out our Procrastinator’s Guide to Pennsylvania’s 2018 midterm elections to answer any questions you may have about the candidates on your ballot.

Other important things you need to know today:

  1. Make sure you’re registered by checking your voter status here.
  2. Find your polling location by typing your address into this tool from the Pa. Department of State.

If you still have unanswered questions, head here.

Get to the polls

Turnout is expected to be high just about everywhere.

In the wake of last week’s mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue, the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Election Protection Coalition has announced that additional support and resources will be made available to Squirrel Hill voters.

Weather, as always, is a possible factor. In Pittsburgh, morning rain is expected to give way to partly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 63 degrees.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft and carshare company Zipcar are offering steep discounts for people getting to the polls, rain or shine.

Join us tonight

After you’ve voted tonight, join your friends from The Incline and Pittsburgh Current for an election night watch party at Local Bar + Kitchen, complete with food and drinks, games, and door prizes.

This event is for you if you love (or hate) politics, want to celebrate (or commiserate) with other Pittsburghers, or if you just don’t want to drink alone tonight. Register here for free.

Tell us what you’re seeing

Send us photos from your polling place to [email protected], tweet it to at us @TheInclinePGH, or tag us on Instagram, #TheInclinePgh.

Colin Deppen, 5:30 a.m.