Legislative Redistricting Update
Last Wednesday, the state Supreme Court upheld a revised reapportionment plan that was approved last June by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. The new maps will take effect with the beginning of the 2014 election cycle. Under the plan, the 42nd Senatorial District undergoes several changes. While I regretfully will no longer represent areas of my current district such as portions of the South Side section of the City of Pittsburgh and the Oakland neighborhood, Robinson Township and the Boroughs of Brentwood, Pennsbury Village, Rosslyn Farms and Thornburg, I look forward to welcoming areas such as the City of Pittsburgh’s north side neighborhoods, Lawrenceville, Reserve Township and the Boroughs of Avalon, Ben Avon and Sharpsburg. Click here for a complete description of the new 42nd District.
To my constituents in the current district, it has been a privilege to serve you over the last eight years. Thank you for the honor and for your steadfast support. I assure you I will continue to represent your best interests in Harrisburg. To my new constituents under the newly drawn district, I would like to take the opportunity to welcome you to the 42nd District and offer my commitment that I will work hard on your behalf to champion issues that will improve the lives of our families and community. I look forward to being your voice in Harrisburg.
For all constituents both current and new, please do not hesitate to contact my district or Harrisburg offices for assistance on any state-related matters. My staff and I are here to help.
May 21st – Election Day
The 2013 Primary Election will be held in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, May 21st. Polls open at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. Don’t forget to vote!
Information for Election Day
For any questions related to voting, I encourage you to visit www.votespa.com. This site has information on your rights as a voter answers to frequently asked questions, and allows you to confirm your registration and much more.
This edition of my News & Views contains information on legislation that is currently before the General Assembly related to voting and campaign laws as well as what is currently happening with election laws in our Commonwealth. There is also information about the May 21st Primary Election. If you need any further assistance or have any additional questions, please call one of my district offices and my staff will gladly assist you.
Absentee Ballot Deadlines!
If you need to apply for an absentee ballot for the May 21st Primary Election, today is the deadline! You can apply in person at the Allegheny County Division of Elections Office no later than 5 p.m. The Elections Office is located in the County Office Building:
542 Forbes Ave, Room 601
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
When applying in person, as long as you are properly registered, you will be given an absentee ballot on the spot and you will be able to cast your vote right there.
If you have already applied for and received your absentee ballot, please know all voted absentee ballots must be received in the Elections Division Office no later than 5 p.m., this Friday, May 17th in order to be counted.
If you have any questions or need any additional information, please visit the Absentee Ballot page on the Allegheny County website or call 412-350-4520.
Voter ID Reminder
In October 2012, the Commonwealth Court stayed the mandatory requirements of the Voter ID law (Act 18 of 2012) for the 2012 General Election, meaning registered voters could not be required to show a photo ID in order to vote. This same policy will be in effect for the May 21st Primary Election. Election workers can educate voters about the possible requirement for photo ID in the future, but cannot require voters to show photo ID on May 21st.
The only voters who will be required to show some proof of identification are voters who are voting at a polling place for the first time. If you are a first time voter at a polling place, please visit www.votespa.com to see a list of approved forms of identification
Locate Your Polling Place
If you are not sure where to vote on Election Day or wish to confirm your polling place, the County offers a simple-to-use, online Polling Place Locator. Click on the previous link to get started. After selecting “continue” you will be asked for your municipality, house number and street name. Once you have entered that information, your polling place address will be displayed. You may also select “View Ballot” to see the ballot as it will appear before you when you go vote.
If you feel your information is inaccurate in any way, or have further questions about your polling place or ballot, please call 412-350-4500.
How to Register Election Day Complaints
Any registered voter who wishes to file a complaint about alleged election law violations can do so online by visiting www.votespa.com and clicking on the “Election Complaints” tab. The voter will be asked to enter their first and last name, address, county of residence, and date of birth, to ensure they are a registered voter. Once submitted, these complaint forms will be directed to the county election board the county in which the voter making the complaint resides.
In Allegheny County, written statements of complaint are available at all polling places and the County Board of Elections. You may also call 1-877-VOTES-PA (1-877-868-3772) to obtain a complaint statement.
Election Reform and Voter Accessibility Legislation
There are several bills recently introduced in the state Senate that address election reform and voter accessibility. On April 17, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 37 which would allow for online voter register up to 30 days before an election. Currently, voters can go online and print out and fill out a registration form, but then must mail this form to the appropriate county voter registration office.
Under SB 37, voters would need to provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number to register, and their signature would be verified using a signature already on file with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). If a voter does not have a driver’s license, the individual would need to register using the current method.
In addition to greater convenience, this bill has had widespread support because it is also a cost savings measure for the state. SB 37 is now before the House of Representatives.
I myself have authored legislation that would allow for early voting to take place in Pennsylvania up to 15 days prior to an election, including weekends. Under SB 900, voters would be able to visit a designated election site and cast a vote in person. Early voting provides individuals who may have a conflict on a schedule election day due to work, travel or other reasons with the ability to participate more directly in the election process.
Other election reform legislation introduced in the Senate includes:
SB 364 – This bill would permit Election Day voter registration (EDR). By implementing an EDR process, eligible persons would be able to register and vote on the same day of any primary, municipal or general election by completing a registration card and providing proof of residency.
SB 708 and SB 709 – This bill package would provide the right to vote before an election day by absentee ballot without having to provide a reason. The measures would allow for the current absentee voting process to run identical to the way it currently is operated, only individuals will not need a reason for why they require an absentee ballot. Emergencies and unanticipated work and family demands often occur leaving many individuals disenfranchised from their constitutional right to cast a ballot.
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing last week in Pittsburgh to discuss these initiatives and the need to modernize Pennsylvania’s election process. I support measures like the ones I have highlighted here that will make voting more convenient and accessible to residents of the Commonwealth.
Did You Know…
Did you know that 32 states and the District of Columbia have some type of early voting?
Brookline Business Feature
As I mentioned in last week’s edition of my News & Views, I will be featuring a Brookline business each week throughout the ongoing Streetscape Project.
This week, I’m happy to feature the Moonlite Cafe, located at 530 Brookline Boulevard. Established in 1997, the Moonlite is open daily for lunch and dinner and features a large banquet hall suitable for just about any occasion. Check out their hours and menus at www.moonlitecafe.com.
When the construction is over, everyone wants a strong business district to remain so it is more important than ever to support the local merchants in the community during the construction. While the project is ongoing, parking spaces have been temporarily lost, but plenty of parking remains across the Boulevard from the current construction zones and a public garage is available near Mazza Pavilion. Walkways exist alongside the construction zones that allow people to move up and down the Boulevard.
Brookline is open for business!
All Senate offices will be closed on Tuesday, May 21st in observance of Election Day. My offices will re-open on Wednesday, May 22nd as scheduled.
In the November 2012 Election, 627,104 people in Allegheny County cast a vote. There were 924,469 registered voters, meaning over 67% of registered voters, voted.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216