Breaking down Pennsylvania’s ballot

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The divide is deep in Pennsylvania about how the governor has handled the coronavirus, and now it's going to the ballot box

(WKBN) – Pennsylvania’s primary election is Tuesday, and there are four things everyone will vote on. Here is how those four issues are broken down.

The divide is deep in Pennsylvania about how the governor has handled the coronavirus, and now it’s going to the ballot box.

Question 1: Should the legislature be allowed to end disaster emergency declarations?

“Well, I think enough people are disgusted with what has happened in the state of Pennsylvania for the last year plus. They want to have a little control over it,” said Mercer County Republican Chairman Ginny Richardson.

The legislature has already passed a bill to do it, but the governor vetoed it. They’d need a two-thirds majority to override.

This would let them end a disaster declaration with a simple majority.

“We have to have the ability during a major crisis or emergency to act swiftly and fast so that we can provide safety to all the residents of Pennsylvania,” said Tim McGonigle, Mercer County Democratic Commissioner.

Question 2: Should the governor be required to ask the legislature to continue a state emergency?

This question would end a state emergency after three weeks unless the governor gets approval from the legislature.

Currently, state emergencies end after 90 days, and the governor can reauthorize it.

Governor Wolf has done that at least four times already during the pandemic.

“This governor has put many businesses out of business and created problems with the normal public, with their livelihoods,” Richardson said.

“But I believe we cannot handcuff the governor during an emergency crisis situation, and I believe both of these votes will do that if people vote yes,” McGonigle said.

Question 3: Should the Pennsylvania Constitution be like the federal constitution and ban discrimination based on race or ethnicity?

Question 4: Should fire departments with paid staff be allowed to access loans to buy equipment?

Pennsylvania allows all-volunteer departments to do it. On Tuesday’s ballot, you can vote if the others can, too.

These same constitutional amendments and referendum will not appear again on the ballot in November.

Something else on the ballot for voters in Deer Creek, French Creek, Mill Creek, New Lebanon, Sandy Creek and Wolf Creek — a Small Games of Chance proposal.

“In Pennsylvania, there is a statute that requires townships to have their voters approve if they want to have entities within the township be able to hold what are small games of chance. That’s basically having a raffle, or having bingo or something like that,” said Thad Hall, director of elections in Mercer County.

Those six townships will be voting on the issue. Right now, there are about 12 townships in the county that have not actually legalized things like a 50/50 raffle.

“We had some townships that were entities in a township, like a fire department. They had been having a raffle for like, 40 years and then it turned out when someone looked, ‘Wait a minute. Your township doesn’t have a small games of chance. It’s not legalized here.’ And so they’ve gone through and been able to correct all of that.”

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