This year's presidential election will be the first in a half-century without the significant presence of federal observers at polling places. That's because in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, and when the court wiped out that section, the statute that provided for election observers went, too.

Ally Aubry / flickr

Tuesday, Oct. 11 is the final date to register to vote in Pennsylvania. Over the course of 2016, more than 40,000 Allegheny County residents have submitted their registration applications online since the state launched the system a little over a year ago.

Brad Larrison / Newsworks

Last month, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed the only way he would lose Pennsylvania in the presidential election would be through voter fraud.

"The only way we can lose, in my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on," he told a rally in Altoona in August.

J. Dale Shoemaker / PublicSource

“Would you like to register to vote?”

Nearly every time Elaine Harris-Fulton asks the question, she gets a version of, “I’m already registered.”

John Minchillo / AP


Allegheny County has been held as a model for its handling of electronic voting testing and inspection. It’s the only county in Pennsylvania to conduct parallel testing, meaning an independent organization randomly selects machines on Election Day and simulates usage.

Divided America: Diverse Millennials Are No Voting Monolith

Aug 23, 2016
Brennan Linsley / AP


The oldest millennials — nearing 20 when airplanes slammed into New York City's Twin Towers — are old enough to remember the relative economic prosperity of the 1990s, and when a different Clinton was running for president. 


Pennsylvania has a long history as an important swing state in presidential elections. But over the last decade, approximately, political shifts have kept the state swinging left again and again—Republicans haven’t won Pennsylvania since 1988.

Nevertheless, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are fighting hard for Keystone State votes this year.

According to Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania has been like “fool’s gold” for Republicans in recent years: tantalizing, but just out of reach.

Politicians often urge supporters to get out and vote. But Donald Trump wants them to go further: get out and vote, and then stake out polling places to watch for cheating.

At a Friday campaign event in Altoona, Penn., the Republican presidential nominee said voting might not be enough for him to win.

Hillary Clinton's recent surge in the polls is being fueled in part by a demographic that President Obama lost handily four years ago — white, college-educated voters.

"In over a half-century, no Democratic presidential candidate has carried white voters with a college degree," said Michelle Diggles, a senior political analyst with the center-left think tank Third Way, who described the split between the white working class and whites with a college degree as "the most underreported story of this year."

Charlie Neibergall / AP

Well, of course. But it's been a long time.

Pennsylvania has become a fairly solid blue state since then-candidate George H. W. Bush won the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, but that didn’t stop GOP hopeful Donald Trump from winning a substantial number of votes on Tuesday.

Court Upholds Total Population Count In Electoral Districts

Apr 4, 2016

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can count everyone, not just eligible voters, in deciding how to draw electoral districts.

The justices turned back a challenge from Texas voters that could have dramatically altered political district boundaries and disproportionately affected the nation's growing Latino population.

David Goldman / AP

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are organizing in Pennsylvania as some Republican Party leaders are shifting their support in the contested primary.

Pennsylvania's April 26th primary is four weeks away, and voter registration is now closed with just over 4 million Democrats and more than 3 million Republicans.

State figures show that Democrats raked in more new voters in 2016, but more voters switched their registration to Republican. Both are down slightly from surges in 2008.

PA’s Old Voting Machines Are Sticking Around

Jan 8, 2016
Daniel Morrison / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s top elections official says the commonwealth is heading into a big election year with outdated voting machines.

Most of the state’s voting systems were purchased around 10 years ago. They weren’t made to last a decade, creating the possibility of faulty vote tallies and long lines on Election Day.

Representatives from a variety of advocacy organizations celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act with a news conference Thursday on Freedom Corner in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.

While they celebrated, they spoke of efforts in recent years to rescind voters' rights, such as the defeated voter ID law and changes they want to see that would allow Pennsylvanians more voting flexibility.

For County Voting Systems, No Clear Mandate

Nov 24, 2014

Most Pennsylvania counties use voting systems that election experts now say are unreliable and a bit shady, but replacing voting technology would be costly, and not all election directors like the look of alternative devices.

Report Finds Cracks In PA’s Election Policies

Nov 3, 2014

An election law progress report finds Pennsylvania is a mediocre student when it comes to heeding the advice for improving the voting experience.

Common Cause, the liberal-leaning advocacy group behind the report, surveyed 10 states with tight gubernatorial or congressional elections to see if they had implemented any of the January 2014 recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Tuesday is  Election Day,  but what happens if you have trouble getting to your polling place?  The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) could give you a lift.

“We do not want to have people prevented in any way to vote, and that’s our mission as B-PEP,” said CEO Tim Stevens.

As primary elections draw near, the National Commission on Voting Rights has been holding a series of hearings across the country to address issues such as voter registration, voting discrimination and ballot accessibility for those with disabilities.

Voters and voting rights activists gathered in Philadelphia last week to share their experiences and the challenges they face when going to the polls.

The agency in charge of overseeing elections in Pennsylvania is joining 23 other states that swap voter registration rolls to check for duplicates.
The commonwealth’s Department of State is looking to have the cross-check running by next year’s gubernatorial primary election.
Spokesman Ron Ruman said participating states’ voter databases will be compared for duplicates, and when one is found, it’ll be sent to local election officials.