This story was originally published by Public News Service.
As the municipal primary election fast approaches, there is an urgent push for more voter education in Pennsylvania.
More than 8.7 million Pennsylvania voters could participate in the local municipal primaries on May 16.
Meghan Pierce, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, said every ballot will look a little different, depending on where you live. The League is encouraging people to do some research before casting their ballot, to determine how the races could affect their lives.
"Whether or not you have a kid in school, you probably care about how your public school education system is funded," Pierce outlined. "If you have a lot of potholes in your street, and you want to know why that is, you know, maybe look into what's going on with your city council. In Philadelphia, for example, there's going to be a mayor's race; very active election, lots of candidates running."
She added Pennsylvania does not have same-day voter registration. You have to register before the strict deadline of May 1 to vote in the primary. The last day to request a mail-in or absentee ballot is May 9.
Rochelle Kaplan, voter services director for the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, said what is important on the ballot is everything Pennsylvanians face on a day-to-day basis, because local offices are at stake, from city council and county commissioners, to local judges and school board members.
Kaplan emphasized municipal primaries are just as important as the General Election, but in the last ones, in 2021, most people did not vote.
"Voter turnout for the general was around 30%; for the primaries, only 20%," Kaplan reported. "That means two out of 10 people for the primary are picking the people that are going to go on to the General Election, and then only three out of 10 are picking the people that are going to run your Township, your school board, who's going to be your mayor."
Kaplan touts the League's website Vote411.org as a one-stop shop for election information. Anyone can check their voter registration status, find their polling place or request a mail-in ballot. By entering a mailing address, they can also see a guide to the specific races on their ballot, along with candidate information.
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