PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s called an off-year election for a reason.

Local municipal, county and judicial races just don’t attract voters.

“I’m here almost every election day,” pollworker Craig Stack of Lawrenceville told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday. “This might be the lowest I’ve seen in the last seven, eight years.”

Cynthia Smalls and her colleagues with the Black Political Empowerment Project were checking out polling districts, recording turnout mid-day.

“It’s not good, but it’s not bad either. It’s so-so,” she said.

Elections officials in the region predict 70% to 80% of voters will not vote in this primary.

If one thing characterizes all the polls KDKA visited or heard about, it’s that voter turnout is very, very low, even when there are hotly contested races going on.

Hot races like District Attorney Stephen Zappala, who is facing his first Democratic primary challenge in years from former Assistant Public Defender Turahn Jenkins.

Long-time Allegheny County councilman-at-large John DeFazio is also facing a primary challenge from 29-year-old Bethany Hallam.

Other possible upsets could occur in four city council seats where incumbents are being challenged.

At one Northside poll, Sandi Giles and Randy Zotter were backing opposing candidates: Giles for incumbent Councilwoman Darlene Harris and Zotter for the mayor’s candidate Bobby Wilson.

Delano: “You’re both here supporting opposite candidates?”
Giles: “Opposite candidates.”
Zotter: “We can do that.”
Giles: “But we’re working together because it’s a democracy. That’s what it’s all about.”

Across town, incumbent Councilwoman Deb Gross is being challenged by party-endorsed candidate Deirdre Kane.

Brian Lavoie, of Highland Park, was urging the few voters showing up to vote for Gross.

“She’s really passionate about trying to make sure there’s affordable housing,” Lavoie said.

Craig Stack was pushing Kane.

“Very passionate. Cares about us, about our kids, about our seniors,” Stack said.

Two other council members with challengers — Bruce Kraus and Ricky Burgess — are thought by some to be less vulnerable, but you never know in a low-turnout race.

Now it’s possible that Tuesday night will see no upsets at all, but predictions get hard when voter turnout is erratic.

Outside Allegheny County, voters are sorting through a number of county commission candidates in many surrounding counties.

Statewide, both parties are choosing two nominees for state Superior Court.

And don’t forget in Butler, Armstrong, Indiana, and Westmoreland Counties, those two special elections to elect a state representative and state senator.

If you need another reason to vote, the people who raise your property taxes the most — school directors — are also on the ballot.

KDKA’s Lisa Washington Reports:


KDKA has put together a guide to help you navigate the voting process.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Look below for more information from where to find your polling location, voting tips if you’re headed to the polls for the first time, plus more.


Pennsylvania Department of State

How To Vote:

Voting In Your County
Preparing For Election Day


Polling Place Information


The Department of State operates a hotline to field concerns about voting and the voting process, both online and over the phone at (877)-868-3772.


Tips For First Time Voters


League Of Women’s Voters Of Pennsylvania

–Allegheny County
Elections Division

–Beaver County
Election Results

–Butler County
Bureau of Elections

–Fayette County
Election Bureau

–Greene County
General Election Info

–Lawrence County
General Election Info

–Mercer County
Election Information

–Washington County
Election Office

–Westmoreland County
Election Bureau

KDKA’s Politics Section: