The Temple News outlined what you need know about this year’s races, ballot measures and voting options.


On Election Day, Nov. 3, Philadelphians will vote on more than 35 federal, state and local representatives with different views on COVID-19 stimulus, student debt relief, climate change and police reform.

Below you will find a list of six races with candidates you will vote on between now and Nov. 3: president, state attorney general, state auditor general, state treasurer and two representatives from the United States Congress, along with the 19 candidates’ backgrounds and platforms.

You will also find the four measures on the ballot this year: the end of stop-and-frisk practices, the creation of an Office of the Victim Advocate, the creation of a Citizens Police Oversight Committee and the issuing of $134 million in bonds for community development. These measures are found on the back of mail-in ballots and let voters make a decision on legislation and initiatives. 

Voters have the option to vote in person or by mail and can find out where to vote in person or how to fill out an application for a mail-in ballot here.

Voters can request a mail-in ballot online or in person at voting offices, like Temple’s Liacouras Center, until Oct. 27 at 5 p.m., and cast their ballot by mailing it in or dropping it off at a voting office. 

On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld that mail-in ballots will be counted until Nov. 6, if they are postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, NPR reported

Philadelphia’s 17 new voting offices make it easier for voters to cast their ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out The Temple News’ video about voting options below.

With multiple options to vote and information available about the races and candidates, if you do decide to vote on Nov. 3 or earlier, use this as one of many resources when making your decision.

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How to cast a ballot in the 2020 general election

Philadelphia voters can mail in their ballots, hand-deliver their mail-in ballots at a local satellite election office or vote in person at a polling place this Election Day.

Who Can Vote

Most American citizens above the age of 18 on Election Day can cast a ballot for the 2020 general election in Philadelphia as long as they have resided in the county for at least 30 days. Voters must have registered to vote in Pennsylvania by Oct. 19 for their ballot to be counted.

Temple students who have lived in Philadelphia for 30 days but are currently living elsewhere can still vote and submit a mail-in ballot to a Philadelphia election office as long as they intend to return to the county. 

How to Vote

Under Pennsylvania Act 77, voters can request, receive, mark and cast their mail-in ballots within one trip to their county election office.

Registered Pennsylvanian voters can alternatively request a mail-in ballot for any reason, but their request forms must be received by their local county election board by 5 p.m. on Oct. 27 at the latest.

Voters have three options for requesting a mail-in ballot. First, voters can apply for a mail-in ballot online as long as they have a valid driver’s license or photo ID from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 

Second, voters can complete a paper application for a mail-in or absentee ballot and mail it to their local county’s election office. The paper forms are available in English and Spanish, and voters with disabilities are encouraged to submit an absentee ballot application. 

Third, voters can apply for a mail-in ballot in person at their local county’s election office. Voters with disabilities that prevent them from visiting their local election office in person can fill out a form to allow someone else to handle their ballot materials. 

Voters can request an emergency absentee ballot if they miss the Oct. 27 deadline, and can submit this form at any point before 8 p.m. on Election Day.  

Once voters receive and fill out their mail-in ballots, they can place the completed form in the white secrecy envelope that comes with every mail-in ballot. Once sealed, the white secrecy envelope must be placed inside the pre-addressed outer return envelope. 

Voters must then sign the declaration statement on the outside of the declaration envelope for their vote to be counted. 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 19 that all Pennsylvania ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by an election office by Nov. 6 will be counted, which could create a nationwide cliffhanger by delaying the final tally of the presidential race, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Alternatively, voters can hand-deliver their mail-in ballots to their county election office, ballot drop boxes and other designated sites before 8 p.m. on Election Day. The closest election offices to Temple’s campus is the Liacouras Center on Broad Street near Montgomery Avenue, and the outdoor dropbox at Eastern State Penitentiary, located on Fairmount Avenue near Corinthian.

Voters can track the status of their mail-in or absentee ballots through an online tool created by the Pennsylvania Department of State, but there may be delays in how frequently their ballot’s status is updated. 

Voters fill out mail-in ballot application forms inside the Liacouras Center satellite election office on Oct. 19. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Where to vote by mail

Temple’s Liacouras Center was one of seven satellite election offices that opened on Sept. 29, and helps voters receive, complete and return their mail-in ballots in person. 

The other offices that opened on Sept. 29 included City Hall Room 140, George Washington High School, Roxborough High School, Tilden Middle School, Julia de Burgos Elementary School and Overbrook Elementary School, The Temple News reported

Since then, the Philadelphia City Commissioners have opened two additional satellite election offices and five ballot dropboxes, including the one at Eastern State Penitentiary. 

Once the Philadelphia City Commissioners train more office staff members, they plan to open additional locations at the first floor of Riverview Place, J. Hampton Moore School, Julia Ward Howe School and Alain Locke School, according to the Philadelphia City Commissioners’ website.  

All satellite election offices are open seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday until Election Day on Nov. 3. 

Philadelphia voters can request mail-in ballots in person at all satellite election offices until one week before Election Day, at which point the offices will only accept completed ballots, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

In compliance with the city’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, the satellite election office at the Liacouras Center is requiring people to check in at a hand sanitizing station, state if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are provided with a mask if they do not have one, The Temple News reported

Where to vote in person

The Philadelphia City Commissioners intend to staff more than 700 polling places on Election Day, which is nearly four times more than they had for the primary election in June, Billy Penn reported

Pennsylvania voters can look up their nearest polling place using an online search tool created by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Polling places will open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, and any voter standing in line by 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

The four locations closest to Temple’s Main Campus will be at Bright Hope Baptist Church on 12th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Penrose Recreation Center at 12th Street between Susquehanna Avenue and Colona Street, George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science on Norris Street near 16th and Winchester Recreation Center on 15th Street near York.

The Pennsylvania Department of State recommends that people voting in person on Election Day wear masks, practice social distancing and sanitize their hands. Voters are also encouraged to bring their own black- or blue-ink pen to limit the number of shared surfaces they touch. 

A guide to 2020 candidates for North Central voters

U.S. President and Vice President

After the town hall events last week, the final presidential debate is on Thursday, Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence (R – Incumbent) 

President Donald Trump is focusing his reelection campaign on the stock market performance and promises he made during the 2016 election, like replacing Obamacare and securing borders, according to his website.

Trump, who had COVID-19 earlier this month, originally declined negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a COVID-19 stimulus package, but he has since expressed desire to sign a different stimulus bill specifically for the airline industry, CBS News reported.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (D)

Biden is pushing his “Build Back Better” plan for a sustainable economy, which incorporates a $2 trillion investment in clean energy, sustainable jobs creation, transformation of infrastructure and expanding land grant universities’ agricultural research and historically Black colleges and universities, according to Biden’s website.

Biden also wants to ensure available, free COVID-19 testing and emergency paid leave for those affected by the pandemic, according to his website.

Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy Cohen (Libertarian)

Jorgenson wants to reserve the multi-trillion dollar deficit, the endless foreign wars and high number of incarcerated people, according to Jorgenson’s website.  

Jorgenson’s COVID-19 plan would cut out the bureaucracy from the stimulus package, much of which did not reach the Americans and small businesses who needed it most, according to her website. 

Attorney General

The attorney general is the state’s top lawyer, who works with the governor and legislators, makes recommendations on major cases and assists in local and federal investigations, according to Public Source, a nonprofit news source based in Pittsburgh.

Josh Shapiro (D-Incumbent)

Shapiro is running as the incumbent Pennsylvania attorney general for the Democratic Party. Before being elected as attorney general in 2016, Shapiro served as a Pennsylvania State Representative and as the chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners, according to Shapiro’s website

As attorney general, Shapiro has sued predatory student loan companies, including Navient Corporation and Navient Solutions LLC. in 2017 for illegal lending practices between 2010 and 2015, according to the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General website.

Shapiro emphasized the disproportionate health and economic consequences of COVID-19 in Black and Latino communities, and heads the Gun Violence Task Force, where he works with Philadelphia District Attorney, Larry Krasner, he said. 

Heather Heidelbaugh (R)

Before running for attorney general, Heidelbaugh was a trial lawyer and a member of the Allegheny County Council. According to her website, Heidelbaugh’s platform includes four key issues: the opioid epidemic, special interest groups manipulating the courts, consumer protection and governmental corruption. 

Heidelbaugh is also concerned with how society treats those with mental illnesses, citing homelessness, an increase in jail suicides and the inability of police officers to deal with mental health-related emergencies, and is in favor of holding a Blue Ribbon commission to address these issues, she said. 

Heidelbaugh is against the criminalization of addiction and favors treatment, but she is largely against safe injection sites, like the Safehouse initiative that was originally planned for the Philadelphia area, she said.

Daniel Wassmer (Libertarian)

Before running as the Libertarian candidate for Pennsylvania state attorney general, Wassmer was an attorney and an adjunct professor at Bucks County Community College. 

Wassmer believes that government overreach is restricting the freedoms of drug use and gun ownership. Wassmer advocates for the loosening of regulations around both issues, he said.

Wassmer supports decriminalizing marijuana and the end of mass incarceration. He dislikes the double standard of drug incarcerations between the wealthy and people from low-income backgrounds, he said.

Richard Weiss (Green)

Weiss provided legal counsel to various places both at home and abroad, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, he said.

Weiss supports appointing special prosecutors to deal with police complaints, as well as the enhancing video recordings of police work. He also promotes creating positions for social workers and mental health experts on police forces, he said.

Weiss backs the full legalization of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, and is against pursuing charges for non-violent drug and sex work when possible, he said.

Weiss provided legal counsel to various places both at home and abroad, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, he said.

Miles Wall and Fallon Roth contributed reporting.

Auditor General

The auditor general ensures the state spends money legally and conducts financial audits, performance audits and attestation engagements, which is reliable financial and non-financial information, according to the auditor general’s website. The position is currently held by Eugene DePasquale.

Nina Ahmad (D)

Ahmad emigrated from Bangladesh and earned a PhD in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming a molecular biologist. She served as the president of the National Organization for Women in Philadelphia and on former President Barack Obama’s Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, she said.

If elected, Ahmad would increase funding for schools, increase access to broadband internet in rural areas and create a pandemic preparedness audit to search for fraud and abuse in education, health and finance, she said.

Timothy DeFoor (R)

DeFoor has been auditing in the public and private sector for more than 25 years beginning as a special investigator with the inspector general of Pennsylvania. He now serves as the Dauphin County Controller, he said. 

If elected, DeFoor would ensure businesses received the COVID-19 relief they applied for and expand the number of expert contractors the office uses when conducting audits, he said.

DeFoor has been auditing in the public and private sector for over 25 years beginning as a special investigator with the inspector general of Pennsylvania. He now serves as the Dauphin County Controller, he said. 

Jennifer Moore (Libertarian)

Moore is the vice chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania and an auditor for Upper Providence Township in Montgomery County, according to the Pennsylvania Project podcast.

Olivia Faison (Green)

Faison grew up in Philadelphia and serves as the chair of the Health Center 4 Advisory Committee and the secretary on the Board of Directors for the City of Philadelphia Health Centers, according to her website.

Faison is worried about how climate change and water contamination will affect the poorest communities, according to her website.

State Treasurer

The state treasurer manages the state’s budget and oversees withdraws and deposits from the state, according to the state treasurer’s website.  

Joe Torsella (D-Incumbent)

Torsella, the incumbent, was the founding president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, and from 2011 to 2014 he served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for management and reform, according to his website

Torsella wants to establish Keystone Savings Accounts, higher education and vocational training savings, for every child born in Pennsylvania, and retirement plans for private sector employees who do not have access to them, according to his website.

Joe Soloski (Libertarian)

Soloski managed his own accounting firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for 27 years and served as a comptroller, financial analyst and public accountant, according to his website

Soloski supports cutting the pay of part-time legislators in half, eliminating the state inheritance tax and expanding the state’s hemp industry, according to his website.

Stacy Garrity (R)

Garrity was deployed to Iraq three times and served as battalion commander for Camp Bucca in her most recent combat deployment in 2004. She was awarded two bronze stars for her service and went on to serve as the first female vice president for Global Tungsten and Powders Corporation.

If elected, Garrity would work to improve transparency within the Pennsylvania Treasury Department by ensuring the department spends no more than the amount agreed upon by legislators. She would also work to make college more affordable by expanding the state’s 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan and Investment Plan, she said.

Timothy Runkle (Green)

Runkle is a senior project manager in the environmental consulting industry and treasurer of the Green Party of Pennsylvania, according to his website.  

Runkle believes in community-based economic development, a focus on sustainability and a respect for diversity, according to his website.

The District 2 United States House of Representatives seat encompasses Philadelphia east of Broad Street and north of Spring Garden Street.

Representative in Congress District 2

The District 2 United States House of Representatives seat encompasses Philadelphia east of Broad Street and north of Spring Garden Street.

Brendan Boyle (D-Incumbent)

Boyle began as the state representative for Pennsylvania’s 170th congressional district in 2009 and became a member of Congress in 2014, according to his website

While in Congress, Boyle has co-sponsored bills like the Green New Deal, which would invest in combating climate change, and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which sought to restrict the amount of military equipment given to local police forces and limit the application of qualified immunity. If re-elected, Boyle will push for another round of COVID-19 stimulus checks, The Temple News reported.

David Torres (R)

Torres is the Republican Party’s ward leader for Philadelphia’s 19th Ward, The Temple News reported

Torres also supports another round of COVID-19 stimulus checks, as well as reopening schools and businesses to jumpstart the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Torres also supports fracking and the police, saying he did not think the government should reallocate portions of police funding back into communities, The Temple News reported.

Representative in Congress District 3

Dwight Evans (D-Incumbent)

Evans began as the state representative for Pennsylvania’s 203rd congressional district in 1980, and is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 3rd congressional district.

If re-elected, the most important issue Evans plans to address is inequity in the health care system, he said.

Michael Harvey, a Temple University alumnus, is a veteran who currently works as a paralegal and serves as the leader of Philadelphia’s 60th Ward as well as a block captain in West Philadelphia, according to his website.

If elected, the most important issue Harvey plans to address is unemployment in the 3rd congressional district, he said in an interview with The Republican Zone.

A breakdown of local ballot measures

Philadelphia’s ballot measures include proposals about police practices and borrowing money for parks and recreation and community development.

Ballots measures are legislation that the city council votes on and the mayor approves. All questions are answered with a yes or no answer. These questions are at the end of the Nov. 3 ballot and for mail-in voters the questions are found on the back of the ballot.

1. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call on the Police Department to eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent, meaning an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a person is engaged in criminal activity in order to stop that person, and, therefore, an officer cannot stop someone unlawfully because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religious affiliation or expression, or other protected characteristic?

A Philadelphia police officer patrols outside City Hall near Broad Street on Oct. 17. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Voting yes on this measure would call on the city to amend the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter and make it illegal for the Philadelphia Police Department to stop and frisk a person without reasonable suspicion that person is engaged in criminal activity, Billy Penn reported

While using stop and frisk is already unconstitutional and, therefore, illegal, police officers still stop people without reasonable suspicion and the measure is mostly symbolic, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

Since Mayor Jim Kenney took office in 2016, baseless stops are down 92 percent, but 10,000 stops a year do not have documented reasonable suspicion, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

In 2019, the Philadelphia Police Department made 76,937 stops, the fewest since the American Civil Liberties Union started its class action suit in 2010. At that time ACLU assisted eight Black men in filing lawsuits against the city for illegally using stop and frisk on thousands because of their race, WHYY reported.

The ACLU randomly sampled 3,933 PPD stops from 2019 and found one-third of all frisks were legally unfounded, an increase from 21 percent in the first half of 2018, according to a 2019 ACLU report

Although 44 percent of Philadelphia’s population is Black, Black residents make up 71 percent of the city’s stops and 82 percent of frisks. In contrast, white Philadelphians make up 22 percent of stops and 12 percent of frisks, despite 35 percent of the city’s population being white, according to the report.

Former Mayor Michael Nutter campaigned on increasing stop-and-frisk in 2007, and two years after he was elected, the number of pedestrian stop-and-frisks doubled, the New York Times reported in 2012.

2. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create the Office of the Victim Advocate to advocate for crime victims and to work with victim-services providers to coordinate, plan, train, educate, and investigate issues relating to crime victims?

The Office of the Victim Advocate would allow victims of violence to participate in support services, advocacy, policy and legislation. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, who represents City Council District 2 and heads the Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention, introduced legislation for the creation of the Office of the Victim Advocate to the city council, which allows victims of violence to participate in support services, advocacy, policy and legislation.

“I believe this will provide the most vulnerable population in the City of Philadelphia, which are victims and co-victims of gun violence and other violent crimes, the opportunity to have a seat at the table, the opportunity to have a voice as it relates to the trauma support services that the population needs,” Johnson said.

The Office of the Victim Advocate would serve as the central hub for victims and co-victims of gun violence and violent crimes, and would work with external organizations like Mothers in Charge, the National Homicide Justice Alliance and Every Murder is Real Healing Center, Johnson said.

If the measure, which passed City Council unanimously, passes on Election Day, the mayor will appoint a leader to the office, and city council will approve them, Johnson said. 

“Advocates have told me that, in the midst of criminal justice reform, which they believe is a great thing if they’re progressives, they still feel like they don’t hear about that mother or that father who lost a loved one to gun violence,” Johnson said.

3. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation of a Citizens Police Oversight Commission, and to authorize City Council to determine the composition, powers and duties of the Commission?

Philadelphia Police officers stand outside the Philadelphia Art Museum on Spring Garden Street on Oct. 17. | ALLIE IPPOLITO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

If passed, this measure would replace the Police Advisory Commission with a Citizens Police Oversight Commission, Billy Penn reported

The Police Advisory Commission reviews police procedures, discusses issues about policing and recommends police improvements to the mayor, according to the city’s website. 

The new Citizens Police Oversight Commission would independently review complaints about police use of force, but the city will not plan the structure of the committee until after the vote passes, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Sixteen of the 17 city council members voted for the new Citizens Police Oversight Commission and District Attorney Larry Krasner supports it, Billy Penn reported.

4. Should the City of Philadelphia borrow ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS ($134,000,000.00) to be spent for and toward capital purposes as follows: Transit; Streets and Sanitation; Municipal Buildings; Parks, Recreation and Museums; and Economic and Community Development?

The City of Philadelphia will ask voters to vote on whether they approve of the city’s plan to borrow $134 million to fund government projects such as parks, recreation and transit. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Philadelphia has faced multiple financial hurdles this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the city expected to make nearly $500 million less in revenue during the 2021 fiscal year than the previous fiscal year, according to a report from City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart. 

This ballot question will ask voters if they approve the city taking on $134 million in debt in order to fund a variety of government projects. Nearly half will be spent on municipal buildings, about a third will be spent on streets and sanitation and around one-fifth will be spent on economic and community development as well as parks, recreation, museums and transit. 

Philadelphia has asked voters questions with this exact wording and format on ballots every year for the past two decades, Billy Penn reported. Although the amount in question, $134 million, is roughly three percent of the city’s overall budget this year, approving it would add to the $5.5 billion debt Philadelphia must pay through 2047.

Page design by Madison Karas and Colin Evans. Graphics by Ingrid Slater and Hanna Lipski. Video by Lawrence Ukenye and Matthew Murray.

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