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2021 primary election in Lebanon County: Here’s what you need to know

PennLive.com logo PennLive.com 5/10/2021 Sean Adams, pennlive.com
a group of people sitting at a table with a laptop: Poll workers at the First Ward West precinct, from left, Judge of Elections Bill McCracken, Brian Klick, Donna Klick and Ruth McCracken set up at the Lebanon Municipal Building on the day before the election. This is the first election for Lebanon County's new election machine system from ES&S. November 4, 2019.  Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com © DAN GLEITER Poll workers at the First Ward West precinct, from left, Judge of Elections Bill McCracken, Brian Klick, Donna Klick and Ruth McCracken set up at the Lebanon Municipal Building on the day before the election. This is the first election for Lebanon County's new election machine system from ES&S. November 4, 2019. Dan Gleiter | dgleiter@pennlive.com

The upcoming primary elections on May 18 will feature several statewide races and ballot measures, but those are only some of the important questions for voters in Lebanon County.

Elections are being held on May 18 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. The deadline to register to vote in the election has passed, and the deadline for no-excuse mail-in or absentee ballots is rapidly approaching on May 11. If you have a mail-in ballot that hasn’t been submitted yet, to ensure your ballot’s arrival by the deadline, they will need to be dropped off in person rather than mailed.

“This is a municipal year, so it’s all basically local races,” said Michael Anderson, director of elections in Lebanon County. But he added that “on the county level, we have district attorney, we have sheriff, and we have register of wills and clerk of the orphan’s court.”

Another major county-wide election is also one of the most hotly contested: the people of Lebanon County, along with voters from portions of Dauphin and York counties, will take part in a special election for the state senate representative from the 48th district.

“That was vacated with the death of Senator Arnold,” Anderson said. “So that is on all of our ballots here in our county. There are four candidates running for that special election for that seat to fill out the remaining, basically, just about two years of that term.”

The candidates for the Pennsylvania State Senate 48th district seat are:

  • Calvin “Doc” Clements, Democrat
  • Christopher Gebhard, Republican
  • Tim McMaster, Libertarian
  • Ed Krebs, Independent

Due to this being a special election to fill an empty seat, anyone in the 48th district can vote regardless of party, unlike the other primary elections being held.

Other statewide offices with upcoming primary elections include several races for judges. For Justice of the State Supreme Court, three Republicans are vying for a primary win along with one Democrat:

  • Maria McLaughlin, Democrat
  • Paula Patrick, Republican
  • Kevin Brobson, Republican
  • Patrician A. McCullough, Republican

For Judge of the Superior Court, four Democrats are competing alongside a single Republican:

  • Jill Beck, Democrat
  • Timika Lane, Democrat
  • Bryan Neft, Democrat
  • Megan Sullivan, Republican

And these are the candidates for Justice of the Commonwealth Court:

  • David Lee Spurgeon, Democrat
  • Lori A. Dumas, Democrat
  • Sierra Street, Democrat
  • Amanda Green Hawkins, Democrat
  • Drew Crompton, Republican
  • Stacy Marie Wallace, Republican

Voters need not rack their brains over some county-wide races in Lebanon this month: several have candidates that are running unopposed from their own party, and some races even have no opposition from the opposing party.

READ MORE: Who’s running in Lebanon County? The list of 2021 primary election candidates

“Pier Hess Graf, who was appointed to replace the district attorney - which was Arnold - she is now running for the full term,” Anderson said. “And she’s running unopposed. Brian Craig is currently the register of wills and he’s running again. He does not have any Republican candidates against him. And then our sheriff is actually retiring, and there are two [candidates] running as Republican for that [Kirk Juliani and Jeffrie Marley Jr.], but there’s no Democrat running in that race. So, pretty quiet on those fronts for the county-wide races.”

Many races, such as those for Magisterial District Judges for districts 52-2-01 and 52-3-04, or the several races for School Director at Large of the various regions in the county, have candidates that have cross-filed for both major parties.

“There’s been a lot of advertisements that we’re seeing or hearing about where that whole ability to cross-file is being questioned,” Anderson said. “Which is absolutely allowed by the election code. An M.D.J. candidate may cross-file and a school board candidate may cross file, because they’re considered non political offices. [But the races] are being very political, especially in Palmyra, maybe a little bit in ELCO, which is Eastern Lebanon County School District.”

Local races are also being held for offices of mayor and city council. For mayor of the city of Lebanon:

  • Cesar B. Liriano, Democrat
  • Sherry Capello, Republican

Two races for Lebanon City Council are being held. The first will ask voters to select two of the following:

  • Christopher Norwood, Democrat
  • Karen Haitos, Republican
  • Joe Morales, Republican

The other will have them select one of the following:

  • W.P. Eckenroth, II, Republican
  • Brian Martin, Republican

Many additional elections are taking place for local municipalities, such as mayors or council members for boroughs, township commissioners, tax collectors, constables and judges and inspectors of elections - many of them running unopposed. The 60 local precincts can lead to quite lengthy ballots, Anderson said, so becoming familiar with them before election day can be very helpful.

“We do have printed sample ballots - anybody who ever wants a sample ballot, they can always stop in and we can give them one. We try to throw that out there, and try to put as much information on our website as possible. And we do, here in our county, have a box that they can return their ballot if they don’t want to mail it, but it is only available during business hours, 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday.”

Anderson reiterated that anyone requesting an absentee ballot, or looking to submit one, needs to act quickly to meet the deadline.

“The deadline for requesting the mail-in or absentee ballot is next Tuesday [May 11] at 5 p.m. And I can tell you that if you wait until the deadline, there is not enough time for us to mail you your ballot and for you to mail it back. So at some point, you’d have to bring it to us - either the application or the ballot. Right now Pennsylvania does allow people to come to their local election office and vote. If they have not already requested a ballot, they can come in here and fill out the application, and we can give them a ballot and have been right here in our office. That’s available up until Tuesday at 5 p.m. as well.”

More information on the elections in Lebanon County, including sample ballots for each voting precinct, can be found on the county’s official website.

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