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Centre County prepares for presidential primary

Dusty DeVinney loads “vote” signs into a truck on Monday to be taken to a precinct.
Dusty DeVinney loads “vote” signs into a truck on Monday to be taken to a precinct. nmark@centredaily.com

It’s that time again.

Actually, it’s a time that’s almost never happened in Pennsylvania. It’s time to actually matter in a presidential primary.

Pennsylvanians will go to the polls Tuesday. Voting will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Pennsylvania is often a battleground state when it comes to the November election, with a lot of attention paid to its electoral votes. But coming late in the primary season, the nominees are usually decided by the time the parties start casting votes. But not in 2016.

“As the presidential race continues to unfold, interest in our primary extends far beyond Pennsylvania,” Secretary of State Pedro Cortes said.

And that is true on both ballots. Democrats continue to pull between former first lady and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Republicans are haggling between front-runner Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Centre County is also centrally located between the upcoming nominating conventions. The Republicans will meet first in Cleveland in July, followed a week later by the Democrats in Philadelphia.

While Centre County residents are casting ballots for presidential nominees, they will also be casting ballots for the delegates who will represent them at those conventions.

Also on the ballot is the race for U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Pat Toomey is the Republican incumbent. On the Democratic ballot, the race for the nomination is between former admiral Joe Sestak, former DEP secretary and gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, as well as Joseph Vodvarka, whose name was added by the state Supreme Court last week.

According to the Department of State, “By the time the April 19 decision was issued, many counties had already programmed and tested their voting machines. Restoring Vodvarka’s name on the ballot, and thus reporting electronically, was not feasible for all counties.”

Attorney General Kathleen Kane is facing criminal charges, not a re-election campaign. Instead, Democrats John Morganelli, Josh Shapiro and Stephen Zappala are seeking the nomination on one side, with Joe Peters and John Rafferty contending for the Republican nod.

John Brown is asking Republicans to put him on the ballot in November against incumbent Democrat Eugene DePasquale for auditor general, while Democrat Joe Torsella and Republican Otto Voit face no challenges on their respective party ballots for the state treasurer race.

Locally, congressional, state Senate and representative races are on the ballots, but few are facing challenges within the party.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, is unopposed on his ticket, but Democrat Kerith Strano Taylor is looking for the nod on her side to face him in the fall.

Republican state Rep. Rich Irvin is facing a primary challenge from Mary Ann Buckley, of Huntingdon, in the 81st District. Rick Rogers, of Mount Union, is running on the Democratic ballot.

State Reps. Scott Conklin and Mike Hanna are seeking re-election on the Democratic ticket. Conklin has no one running for his 77th District seat on the Republican ticket. Hanna does have a Republican seeking the nomination in the 76th, Stephanie Borowicz, of McElhattan. Rep. Kerry Benninghoff has no Republican challengers, but a Democrat, Melody Fleck, is seeking her party’s nomination for the 171st District.

Cortes said that his department is trying to make sure residents have easy access to election information once the polls close Tuesday.

“The election-returns site will give the voting public, candidates and the press the most complete picture of how the electorate voted,” he said.

Those returns can be accessed through dos.pa.gov.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

FOR MORE INFO

Find polling places, sample ballots and more election information at the county Elections and Voter Registration Office website: http://centrecountypa.gov/index.aspx?NID=238

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