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Pennsylvania primary election sends Pittsburgh-area voters to the polls

Voters heading to the polls for Pennsylvania primary elections
Voters heading to the polls for Pennsylvania primary elections 01:25

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pennsylvania voters are heading to the polls on Tuesday to cast their votes in several primary races. 

Pennsylvania has a closed primary, which means you can only vote on your registered party's ticket.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. through 8 p.m. throughout the state. As long as you're in line by 8 p.m., you'll be able to vote. If you still have a mail-in or absentee ballot, you also have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to return it to your county's elections office.

Same-day voter turnout appears low

Same-day voter turnout seems to be low everywhere. Maybe that's not too surprising -- the presidential primary contests in both party are over, and most people really have no idea who is running for state attorney general, state auditor general and state treasurer

And frankly, locally, it's really no contest in many races. Five local state senators are unopposed, along with 19 local state representatives. 

As for mail-in votes, statewide, over a half million mail-in votes were cast. Locally, in Allegheny County, 90,000 mail-in ballots were turned in, of which 75,000 were cast by Democrats.

Finally, Pennsylvania is a closed primary state, which means independents cannot vote in the two major party primaries. There is legislation to change that -- to allow that state's 1 million independents the chance to vote in the party primary they choose. So far, while there is growing support for this, it has still not passed both houses of the General Assembly.  

Allegheny County election workers scan mail ballots 

Polls in Allegheny County opened at more than 1,300 precincts at 7 a.m. County spokesperson Abigail Gardner said there was one "isolated incident" that delayed the opening of voting at the McKees Rocks Borough council chambers building, but it's since been resolved.   

By 4 p.m. at the Allegheny County Elections Warehouse, Gardner said the approximately 90,000 mail-in ballots that were returned before Tuesday had been scanned. About 5,000 ballots were received on Tuesday, and those will be scanned too. 

There will be one more drop off for mail ballots from the postal service, and ballots that were returned to the County Office Building will be brought to the warehouse after the polls close.  

Key race: Lee challenged by Patel in Democratic primary

One key race to watch is the congressional race between Democrat Congresswoman Summer Lee and challenger Edgewood Councilwoman Bhavini Patel. 

Lee is seeking a second term and has the backing of Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato. Lee has taken heat on her criticism of Israel, but she says that isn't the only reason voters cast their ballots. 

"So we recognize that we have to be responsible to talking to all of those people at all of the time, so that they realize that even if we don't always agree, that we are still working to solve the everyday problems that people in western Pennsylvania have," Lee said.

But challenger Patel says that Lee's progressive agenda doesn't represent the region. 

"At the end of the day, I think that the thing that's been the consistent theme is being able to hold onto the positivity and the promise of what this region has to offer, and I think bringing people into the Democratic fold and giving them an option that's not focused on division," Patel said. 

To see the results in the Lee-Patel race, select "District 12" from the dropdown menu below: 

In Pennsylvania's Senate races, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Dave McCormick will appear alone on the ballots after challengers were removed by the state Supreme Court. 

KDKA's 2024 Primary Election Guide has all of the information you need from key races, information about polls and mail-in ballots, and county-by-county information. 

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