LIVE UPDATES: Pa. primaries run ‘remarkably smoothly’ despite challenges, state official says

PITTSBURGH — Tuesday marks the 2020 primary election in Pennsylvania. Many normal aspects of this election have already changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scroll down for live updates.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m.: There are concerns over how Pennsylvania’s primary election played out.

The Pennsylvania Election Protection Coalition said these issues need to be addressed before November, and it starts with handling the pandemic.

“We’re hearing from voters where there was no social distancing happening and poll workers were reluctant to wear masks,” said Susan Almeida, the director of Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Almeida also said another big concern is whether there was enough of a response to the protests here in Pittsburgh and in Philadelphia.

“The concerns were for voters who had to pass through not just the protesters, but simply having to get through the significant police presence, and whether or not those voting locations were going to be potentially moved,” Almeida said.

The coalition put it bluntly, saying there was a fundamental lack of “election nimbleness” when it came to preparing for voting during the pandemic.

“Very simply we know that we need a change to allow all voters to receive ballots by mail for the November election. We know that we need more sophisticated ballot tracking software,” said Ray Murphy of Pennsylvania Voice.

The coalition says also come November, there needs to be better ways to locate the newly combined in-person polling places.

Watch Joe Arena’s full report below:

UPDATE 2:25 p.m.: Allegheny County officials said final results are being uploaded into the system.

Officials said a total of 311,325 voters cast votes. Of those, 209,843 cast votes by mail-in or absentee ballot with the remaining votes cast in-person at the election districts. Based on an estimated 770,000 eligible voters (only Republicans and Democrats), this reflects a 40% turnout.

UPDATE 1:48 p.m.: Allegheny County election officials said they are close to finishing all of the scanning.

They expect to have final results between 2-2:30 p.m.

UPDATE 12:20 p.m.: Allegheny County officials said the Elections Division has just started recanvassing.

Election officials confirm there are 263,043 ballots scanned and reported to the elections website, with a total of 850 precincts reporting. This includes all mail-in and absentee ballots.

At 12:09 p.m., the secured room was unlocked by Elections staff and witnessed by poll watchers and elections staff, officials said.

UPDATE 4:30 a.m.: In Allegheny County, police and security are guarding where the ballots are being kept to make sure it’s secure. There was a tremendous turnout for the primary.

Election officials confirm there are more than 263,000 ballots scanned and reported to the elections website, with a total of 850 precincts reporting. This includes all mail-in and absentee ballots.

UPDATE 2:30 a.m.: Update from Allegheny County: All mail-in and absentee ballots have now been scanned and uploaded. Additionally, 778 precincts have been scanned and uploaded in their entirety to the Elections results page – a total of 249,476 ballots have been scanned to this point.

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That number reflects a 32% turnout with more to come.

UPDATE 2 a.m.: Update from Allegheny County: We are scanning the remaining mail-in and absentee ballots now and expect those to be complete and results updated online in the next hour or so. Once that is done, we will suspend canvassing of the in-person ballots.

We will reconvene on Wednesday, June 3rd at noon to finish the canvassing.

UPDATE 12:30 a.m.: Update from Allegheny County: All ballot boxes have been received and are in line for processing.

UPDATE 11:30 p.m.: Incumbent Mike Doyle defeated challenger Jerry Dickinson, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, in the U.S. House District 18 Republican primary.

District 18 represents parts of Allegheny County.

Doyle said Tuesday after his victory that he is “very gratified that the people of Pittsburgh have given me the opportunity to serve them for another two years. This is a critical time for our country.”

UPDATE 9:22 p.m.: Pennsylvania’s secretary of state said Tuesday’s primary ran “remarkably smoothly despite unprecedented challenges” leading up to voting.

“Today, we marked two major milestones in Pennsylvania’s electoral history,” Secretary Boockvar said. “For the first time, Pennsylvania voters could vote by mail-in ballot without having to provide an excuse, and they did so in impressive numbers. And all 67 counties have now deployed new, more secure and accessible voting systems with voter-verifiable paper ballots. I am extremely thankful for and proud of Pennsylvania’s dedicated election officials, poll workers and, of course, voters.”

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Approximately 1.8 million Pennsylvania voters applied for and were approved to vote by mail-in and absentee ballot, which is 17 times greater than the number who applied for an absentee ballot for the last presidential primary in 2016, the secretary said in a news release.

UPDATE 9 p.m.: The Associated Press has declared President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will win the presidential primaries in Pennsylvania for their respective primaries.

With 164 precincts reporting out of 9,162, Biden is leading Sen. Bernie Sanders by about 80,000 votes. Trump is ahead by 26,000 votes with just 147 precincts reporting.

However, the AP declared both as the winners.

UPDATE 8:34 p.m.: Upon motion by another party, the Court has ruled that the Penn Hills election districts will remain open until 9 p.m., according to Allegheny County officials.

Anyone in line at that time will be allowed to vote.

So far, there have been 142,885 ballots scanned in Allegheny County.

UPDATE 8:00 p.m.: The polls are now closed in Pennsylvania.

Click here to get real-time results for Pennsylvania primary races when they start coming in.

UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: Thousands of people in Allegheny County voted by mail this election, but where do all those ballots go?

Workers are using high speed letter openers to open every one of the ballots, and those ballots are then fed into a scanner that can read up to 700 ballots per minute.

With the extraordinarily high number of mail-in ballots because of the pandemic, election officials say depending on the in-person turnout today, they could have a substantial percentage of the entire vote ready to release at 8:01 p.m.

When polls close tonight, poll workers will bring the lock boxes containing all of the paper ballots here to the warehouse where they will be counted and then added to the mail -in ballot totals.

Watch Channel 11 Rick Earle’s full report below:

UPDATE 6:00 p.m.: There had been 107,500 ballots scanned in Allegheny County as of 5:40 p.m.

The ballots received in today’s mail, approximately 16,000, have also arrived and will begin to be processed shortly.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Allegheny County officials said after a few reports of voters being turned away for not wearing a mask, they contacted each polling place to reiterate that voters can vote even if they do not wear a mask.

Poll workers are expected to be wearing a mask and have been asked to leave if they are not willing to do so.

Officials said there was a vague call to 911 from the McKeesport polling place that reported that someone had been touched by someone else and that there was a threat to shoot someone. The McKeesport PD responded and determined it to be unfounded.

As of 3:45 PM, there have been 70,022 ballots scanned in Allegheny County, which accounts to 37%.

UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: The Department of State is reminding absentee and mail-in voters in Allegheny County that ballots must be postmarked by today and received by 5 p.m. on June 9 in order to be counted.

Voters can also hand deliver their ballots to these approved locations by 8 p.m.

UPDATE 1:10 p.m.: An argument sparked a fight at Taylor Allderdice and police were called to the polling location.

One voter started screaming at another to put on a mask, according to Pittsburgh police and Allegheny County officials.

The man reportedly became progressively more agitated and when a constable came out to ask him to put a mask on, the man reportedly refused to do so, continued to yell and got into a physical altercation with him.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Police and Pittsburgh Police were called. The man was told to vote and then escorted out of the building.

Charges were not filed.

A viewer sent us video which appears to show voters arguing back and forth.

We spoke with a man over the phone claiming he’s the one in this video wearing the red “Make America Great Again” hat. Watch Jillian Hartmann’s full report below:

As of 12 p.m., there were 23,988 ballots that had been scanned in Allegheny County.

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: If you feel comfortable voting in person Tuesday, first confirm your polling place because they’ve been consolidated.

If you're an eligible voter in Allegheny County, you should have received a post card letting you know where to go. It is just one of several changes in place due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 concerns didn't stop people from turning out first thing Tuesday morning at the Ross Township Public Works building, eager to cast their vote in the Pennsylvania Primary.

Many voters wore masks, as instructed, with officials providing masks for those who needed one. There are other safety changes in place across the county.

Overall, election officials are asking for voters to be patient.

Channel 11′s Liz Kilmer talked with voters who showed up to cast their vote. Watch her full story below.

UPDATE 9:15 a.m.: Callers to Channel 11 report that no one was wearing masks at their polling location, and people were coughing and voters were concerned.

Another caller reported that he was openly carrying a firearm when he walked into a polling place in Duquesne and he was asked to leave. After a call to police, officers informed the poll workers that he was legally permitted to carry a firearm and he was allowed back inside to vote.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m.: Allegheny County officials have received a few complaints from voters that physical distancing isn’t being followed. In those cases, election officials are being contacted and being asked to emphasize the mitigation measures.

The Elizabeth Township Municipal Building polling place reported that it was missing Republican ballots this morning. When notified, the ballots were immediately printed. A driver was en route to the polling place when poll workers called a second time and said they were mistaken. The ballots were in the materials that they had. The driver is returning to the Elections office.

In Pittsburgh 19 and 26, a few voters were given an incorrect ballot. Those were immediately remedied and the Judges of Elections have been contacted to emphasize the process.

And last but not least, in response to a couple of inquiries, any voter in line at 8 PM will be allowed to vote.

UPDATE 8:16 a.m.: Allegheny County officials said when people arrived at the Elizabeth Township municipal building, they learned that elections officials at the polling location were mistaken and had found the Republican ballots.

UPDATE 7:50 a.m.: Channel 11 has learned that there were initially no Republican ballots at the Elizabeth Township Municipal Building on Rock Run Road. Allegheny County officials tell us that ballots were printed and are already on their way to the polling place.

UPDATE 7:15 a.m.: Allegheny County officials said the polls opened at 7 a.m. across the county. Additionally, the mail-in and absentee ballots have been removed from the locked storage area. The shrinkrap is being removed now and Elections staff are beginning the process of opening the envelopes.

UPDATE 7:00 a.m.: The polls are now open across Pennsylvania for the 2020 primary election. You can find everything you need to know about the election by scrolling down.

What is a primary election?

A primary election means voters are choosing the candidate(s) who they want to see on the general election ballot in November. Voters are not actually choosing a nominee, however. Each party announces candidates at a convention.

Who can vote?

To register in Pennsylvania, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States for at least one month prior to the next election
  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which you want to register and vote at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be 18 years old on or before the next election

However, you had to register by May 18 in order to vote in the Tuesday election.

Mail-in, absentee ballots

The deadline to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot has already passed. As of Tuesday, May 26, the Allegheny County Elections Division had received 277,185 mail-in and absentee ballot applications.

>>>RELATED: Ballot drop off location open at City-County Building downtown

Allegheny County has set up a ballot drop-off location inside the lobby of the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. People who are concerned that their mail-in ballot will not arrive in time by the end of Election Day can drop them off in person at the following times:

  • Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Monday and Tuesday: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

At this drop-off location, voters can only drop off their own ballots. Multiple ballots or ballots for other people will not be accepted.

Additionally, mail-in ballots will not be accepted at polling places on Election Day.

The deadline for the elections office to receive a mail-in or absentee ballot was extended to June 9 only for six counties across the state: Philadelphia, Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie and Montgomery counties.

Polling locations, hours

Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you are still in line at 8 p.m. when the polls close, you will still be allowed to cast your ballot.

Polling locations have changed in many communities around the region because of the coronavirus pandemic. In Allegheny County, locations have been consolidated, and in many places, there is only one polling location in that borough or municipality.

To find your polling location, you can also enter your address online at this link. It would probably be a good idea to double check the location ahead of Tuesday if you plan to vote in person.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

Pennsylvania’s voting website says only voters who are casting their ballot for the first time in their election district will need to bring their ID.

Acceptable IDs for first-time voters:

  • Driver’s license
  • U.S. passport
  • Military, student, or employee ID
  • Voter registration card
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check
  • Any ID issued by the commonwealth or federal government

An ID without your photo must have your address on it.

Who is on the ballot?

Your county elections office should be able to provide you with a sample ballot ahead of Tuesday’s election.

CLICK HERE to find your county election office.

The June primary will include choices for President of the United States, Pennsylvania Attorney General, Pennsylvania Auditor General, State Treasurer, delegates to the National Convention, state representatives specific to your voting district and local offices.