Multiple Ballot Questions Face Voters In This Year's Primary

When voters start to get their mail-in ballots next week or vote in person in May, they will discover something a bit unusual. KDKA's Jon Delano has more.

Video Transcript

- Election day is just over a month away. This time, local voters will not only be selecting candidates but also selecting yes or no on several ballot questions. As political editor John Delano reports, there are four questions for every Pennsylvanian, plus some local ones as well.

JON DELANO: In a primary election, it's usually a ballot for just Democrats and Republicans, but not this year. All voters get to vote on a number of significant ballot questions.

RUTH QUINT: So I think it's very important for people to know that there's a lot on the ballot for every voter in this primary.

JON DELANO: Ruth Quint, who prepares the nonpartisan website for the League of Women Voters, says the first two are state constitutional amendments on emergency powers.

RUTH QUINT: It shifts a lot of control from the governor's role over to the role of the legislature.

JON DELANO: A yes vote allows lawmakers to overturn a governor's emergency powers and limits his declarations to just 21 days.

RUTH QUINT: It would be the whole legislature, 253 representatives and senators in Harrisburg, making these regulations about the curfews, the business regulations, and so on.

JON DELANO: The third constitutional amendment would declare that equal rights could not be abridged because of race or ethnicity.

RUTH QUINT: So far, that's not in the Pennsylvania constitution, although there are some similar clauses.

JON DELANO: A fourth ballot question allows paid fire companies to get the same state loans for equipment now available to volunteer fire companies.

Besides the state questions, counties often have their own ballot referenda.

RUTH QUINT: In Allegheny County, there's a ballot question. It's very hard to understand on the ballot. It talks about changing the conditions of confinement at the Allegheny County Jail.

JON DELANO: Turns out, a yes vote would limit the use of solitary confinement at the jail. And then Pittsburgh votes on whether to prohibit city police from using no-knock warrants, already not available here, says the DA's office, but used by Louisville police in the Breonna Taylor case.

RUTH QUINT: No-knock warrants have been in the news a lot lately. It's something that a lot of community groups are involved in getting this referendum on the ballot.

JON DELANO: That's six ballot questions. Can you name them all? That's why we have a link at to the League of Women Voters' pros and cons on these issues. And remember, all voters, including independents, get to vote in this primary. John Delano, KDKA News.