Registered Saucon Valley Voters Will Cast Votes on Tuesday, Nov. 6

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This midterm election will be for seats at the state and federal levels. At the federal level we will be electing our Representative in the U.S. Congress and one of our U.S. Senators (the seat currently held by Bob Casey Jr.). At the state level we are electing our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Senator in the PA General Assembly and Representative in the PA General Assembly.American Flag Vote

There are two things voters might not be expecting on this year’s ballot.

The first is that voters will be asked twice to vote for either Democrat Susan Wild, Republican Marty Nothstein or Libertarian Tim Silfies.

There is a special election to put a U.S. Congressional Representative in place for the remaining three months of the old 15th District vacated by Charlie Dent’s resignation.  And there’s also the regular election for U.S. Congressional Representative for the new 7th District, which for our area has replaced the 15th District. Voters will likely want to vote for the same candidate in both. But they should ensure they tick off the name of their candidate in both the special election for the 15th and the election for the 7th districts. If voters want to vote for different candidates for the interim 15th and then the future 7th, they should understand that the special election for the 15th is for just a few months. The election for the 7th District is for a two-year term.

The second unusual item is a ballot referendum question that will change requirements for the person appointed to the position of Controller of Northampton County. Voters will be asked to vote Yes or No to the following:

Shall the electorate of Northampton County approve a change in the Northampton County Home Rule Charter to Article IV titled “Controller,” 2nd Paragraph of Section 401, commencing with the Controller’s term of office which begins January, 2020, so as to provide for the following amendment: “During his term of office, the County Controller shall devote full time to the office.”

From the way this question is phrased voters might assume that the Controller is not currently required to devote full time to the office and that this is the change being made. Actually what is being done here is the Northampton County Council is asking to ease the requirements of the position. Currently the charter says exactly this but goes on to say “and shall not actively engage in any other business or occupation.” The proposal is to eliminate the stipulation that the Controller is not allowed to have another business or occupation in addition to the Controller position. A Yes vote is a vote to keep the Controller full-time but allow them to have another business or occupation. A No vote is a vote to keep the Controller full-time and not allowed to have any other occupation or employment.

The Controller position has been difficult for the County to fill. Limiting the Controller from having any other occupation might limit the pool of qualified candidates willing to do the job. Additionally, the restriction on “any other business or occupation” has led to the County Council having to make politically difficult decisions on what sort of activities the charter is meant to prevent the Controller from doing (i.e., can the Controller coach little league? Or is that another occupation?).

Know the ballot and research your candidates in advance.

The official sample ballot for Northampton County is available here.

Here’s a text version that includes only the districts that are in Hellertown borough and Lower Saucon Township along with live links to the candidates’ official campaign sites:

United States Senator:

Bob Casey, Jr. (D)

Lou Barletta (R)

Neal Gale (G)

Dale R. Kerns, Jr. (L)

PA Governor & Lt. Governor (combined tickets, you vote for them together based on party):

Tom Wolf / John Fetterman (D)

Scott R. Wagner / Jeff Bartos (R)

Paul Glover / Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick (G)

Ken V. Krawchuk / Kathleen S. Smith (L)

Representative in U.S. Congress 7th District:

Susan Wild (D)

Marty Nothstein (R)

Tim Silfies (L)

Senator in the PA General Assembly 18th District:

Lisa Boscola (D)

Representative in the General Assembly 131st District (includes parts of Lower Saucon):*

Andy Lee (D)

Justin J. Simmons (R)

Representative in the General Assembly 136th District (includes all of Hellertown and parts of Lower Saucon):*

Robert Freeman (D)

Interim Representative in US Congress for the old 15th District:

Susan Wild (D)

Marty Nothstein (R)

Tim Silfies (L)

(D) = Democrat (R) = Republican (G) = Green Party (L) = Libertarian

Referendum Question for Northampton County:

Shall the electorate of Northampton County approve a change in the Northampton County Home Rule Charter to Article IV titled “Controller,” 2nd Paragraph of Section 401, commencing with the Controller’s term of office which begins January, 2020, so as to provide for the following amendment: “During his term of office, the County Controller shall devote full time to the office.”

Yes / No

*You’ll need to determine if you are in the 131st District to know if you will be making a choice between Andy Lee (D) and Justin J. Simmons (R). The 131st District includes some parts of Lower Saucon Township. The rest of Lower Saucon and all of Hellertown borough are in the 136th District where Robert Freeman (D) is running unopposed. Voters can use the check voter registration status link below to determine their districts, or look at the voter registration card which lists the voter’s districts.

Verify your registration status and locate your polling place.

Voters can easily check their registration status and determine their polling location and districts here: https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/VoterRegistrationStatus.aspx.  This information is also printed on the voter registration card.

Voters can only vote at their registered polling place. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. As long as voters are in line by 8 p.m. they will be allowed to vote, even if they get into the voting booth after 8 p.m.

Voters who have voted before at their polling location do not need to show any ID to vote a regular ballot on Election Day. First-time voters are required to show some form of ID, but it does not need to be a photo ID. Common forms of ID such as a driver’s license or student ID are acceptable. A complete list of acceptable forms of ID for first-time voters are:

  • Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card

  • ID issued by any Commonwealth agency

  • ID issued by the U.S. Government

  • U.S. Passport

  • U.S. Armed Forces ID

  • Student ID

  • Employee ID

  • Confirmation issued by the County Voter Registration Office

  • Non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth that shows name and address

  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government that shows name and address

  • Firearm permit

  • Current utility bill that shows name and address

  • Current bank statement that shows name and address

  • Current paycheck that shows name and address

  • Government check that shows name and address

All voters may be asked to show ID at the polls, however, they cannot be stopped from voting a regular ballot if they do not provide a valid ID.

The friendly poll workers and election volunteers at the polling location are the first folks who can help if a voter is having trouble voting or is confused about their registration status. Voters who are turned away because they are not showing as registered, when they believe they are, should ask for a provisional ballot at the polling location. Our local election official for Northampton County is Dee Rumsey (610-829-6260 or election@northamptoncounty.org). Voters who believe their right to vote has been violated can contact the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) or the Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline (800-253-3931).

Find the time and make your plan to VOTE.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Put election day on your calendar so you’ll have a reminder. Decide when on Election Day is the best time to go vote: morning, lunchtime or afternoon/evening? Babies and children are allowed into the voting booth with you, so bring them along!

Don’t let the information about challenges (long wait times or being turned away) listed above or on the news scare you away. 99.9% of the time voters walk in, sign their name, walk into a voting booth and are out of there in less than five minutes. In Hellertown and Lower Saucon there is not likely to be a long line at your polling location no matter what time you go.

All of the polling locations in Hellertown and Lower Saucon have free parking, sometimes on the street. If you need a ride to the polls and you have a smartphone you can use the Uber app to save $10 on your ride to your polling place (note, however, that there is no discount available for the ride home). Click here for more information about this option. Many non-profit organizations and local political party offices also provide rides to the polls, so don’t let the lack of a ride be the reason you don’t vote.

In Pennsylvania there is no law requiring that employers offer time off to vote, but many employers in the Lehigh Valley do have time-off to vote policies. Voters should talk to their employer if they need to modify their work schedule in order to vote.

Your vote matters!

In the past Hellertown and Lower Saucon have suffered from a lack of choice in most midterm elections. But times have changed and this election is as important as any other, with several contested races that have dramatically different candidates. Be a voter, but better yet, be an informed voter.

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