Oct 18, 2022 - Politics

Midterm elections 2022: Voting in Philadelphia

Illustration of a white podium changing into a voting booth and then changing into three campaign signs, over a divided red and blue background.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Election Day is Nov. 8. Get ready to cast your ballot with this rundown of how to register, where to vote and what to expect in Philly.

Why it matters: Pennsylvania is a battleground state where margins of victory are often slim and statewide races depend on turnout — especially in voter-rich Philadelphia.

  • Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race is critical to deciding whether Democrats or Republicans win a majority in the chamber.

Voting in the 2022 midterm elections

Key dates:

  • Oct. 24: The final day to register to vote.
  • Nov. 1 at 5pm: The deadline to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot. You can also pick up an absentee ballot at the County Board of Elections Office in City Hall, Room 140.

What to expect: Philly voters' ballots will differ depending on where they live in the city, as district and at-large City Council, state representatives and state senators, and congressional races are on the ballot.

Absentee ballots: If you're voting by mail, your ballot must be received by 8pm on Nov. 8.

  • You can submit your ballot in the mail, in person at the County Board of Elections Offices, or at one of the official drop boxes located throughout the city.

On Election Day: Polls will be open 7am–8pm. Find your polling place on the city's website.

  • Philly voters are only required to show identification the first time they're casting a ballot in a new division. See valid forms of identification on the city's website.
  • Voters who apply to vote by mail can't cast a ballot using a voting machine on Election Day without surrendering their ballot along with the declaration envelope. Those who don't bring them can still cast a provisional ballot.

Be smart: Visit the Pennsylvania Department of State's website to check your registration status and the status of your ballot.

Remember: If you see anything of concern on Election Day, call the election hotline at (215) 686-1590 or the city's District Attorney's office at (215) 686-9641.

We've broken down all the state races and ballot questions for you below.

Pennsylvania governor: Josh Shapiro (D) vs. Doug Mastriano (R)

Photo illustration of a blue-tinted Josh Shapiro and a red-tinted Doug Mastriano separated by a white halftone line.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Attorney General Josh Shapiro and state Sen. Doug Mastriano will face off in the gubernatorial race, which is one of the most-watched contests in the country.

Catch up quick: Shapiro, a Democrat, has supported abortion access, boosting education funding and expanding voter access.

  • Mastriano, a Republican and retired Army colonel from Franklin County, has supported slashing regulations, taxes and education funding, while calling for restricting abortion access and voting rights.
  • Mastriano, who's endorsed by former President Trump, is suing the Jan. 6 select committee. Mastriano was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and claims the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

The big picture: The future of abortion access as well as culture war issues could come down to who occupies the governor's mansion.

  • Pennsylvania Republicans have controlled both houses of the General Assembly for years and have sought to limit access to abortion, restrict rights for LGTBQ individuals, and potentially remove Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner over his handling of gun crime.
  • Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf is term-limited and has served as a bulwark against the GOP.

Of note: Third-party candidates in the race are:

  • Libertarian: Matt Hackenburg
  • Green: Christina DiGiulio
  • Keystone: Joe Soloski

Go deeper:

U.S. Senate: John Fetterman (D) vs. Mehmet Oz (R)

Photo illustration of a blue-tinted John Fetterman and a red-tinted Mehmet Oz separated by a white halftone line.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Mark Makela/Getty Images and Rachel Wisniewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images

John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz are going head-to-head for the seat of retiring Sen. Pat Toomey in a race with national implications that has drawn tighter in recent weeks.

Catch up quick: As lieutenant governor, Fetterman has focused on criminal justice. But his bid for U.S. Senate has been dogged by questions about his health since suffering a stroke and a 2013 incident when, as mayor of Braddock, he pulled a shotgun on a Black jogger who he wrongly suspected of being involved in a shooting.

  • Fetterman has prioritized ending the Senate's legislative filibuster, banning members of Congress from holding or trading stock, and pushing reforms that limit the big-money influence in politics.

Meanwhile, Oz is a surgeon who gained fame on his nationally televised "The Dr. Oz Show." He is a first-time candidate endorsed by Trump who won the Republican primary by a slim margin.

  • Oz's agenda aligns with the state GOP on issues ranging from limiting gun control and banning abortion. Oz has hammered his opponent over the issue of surging crime, particularly in Philadelphia.

The big picture: The race could decide the balance of power in the evenly divided Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris currently acting as the tiebreaker for Democrats.

Of note: Third-party candidates in the race are:

  • Libertarian: Erik Gerhardt
  • Green: Richard Weiss
  • Keystone: Daniel Wassmer

Go deeper:

Special elections: Philadelphia City Council

Four Philadelphia City Council seats are on the ballot for the 17-member legislature.

  • Two of the special elections are for district seats, while the other pair are at-large citywide races.

The big picture: While the faces of the City Council will change, the political dynamics most likely won't. Democrats currently hold 11 of the seats in the legislature, while the GOP and Working Families Party each hold a lone seat.

  • All the vacancies were created by Democrats who are seeking to run for mayor in 2023, and each party nominated its own hand-picked candidates.
  • Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly a 7-to-1 margin in the city, so Democrats are expected to maintain their hold.

Of note: The winning candidates will complete the current legislature's term, which ends next year.

At-large special election No. 1:

Democrat Jim Harrity faces Republican Drew Murray in the first citywide race.

  • Harrity is the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's political director and a former staffer to state Sen. Sharif Street, a Democrat from Philly.
  • Murray, a former Democrat, has served as a past president of the Logan Square Civic Association and is a sales manager for a storage-system firm.

At-large special election No. 2:

Republican Jim Hasher will take on Democrat Sharon Vaughn in the second citywide City Council race.

  • Hasher previously ran for Congress in the 1990s and runs a local Boys Club in the Torresdale neighborhood.
  • Vaughn is a long-time City Council staffer who served as former Council member Derek Green's chief of staff before he resigned in September.

7th District special election:

Democrat Quetcy Lozada will vie against Republican James Whitehead for the seat based in the Kensington neighborhood.

  • Lozada is the former chief of staff for Council member María Quiñones Sánchez, who resigned last month to run for mayor.
  • Whitehead grew up in the Frankford neighborhood and graduated from a Philly public high school. He started a business and has two children, according the city's GOP website.

9th District special election:

Democrat Anthony Phillips and Republican Roslyn Ross are competing for the legislative seat that includes parts of North and Northwest Philadelphia.

  • Phillips is the executive director of the nonprofit Youth Action.
  • Ross, a former Democrat who lives in Mt. Airy, lists crime and education among her top issues.

Ballot questions

Illustration of a pattern of checkmarks that turn into question marks and vice versa, over a red and blue background with a pattern of ballot elements.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Philly voters will also decide a pair of ballot questions:

  • Should the city's Home Rule Charter be amended to create a Department of Aviation and transfer certain functions related to the operations of the city's airports to this new department?
  • Should the city's Home Rule Charter be amended to give a preference in civil service examinations for qualified graduates of career technical education programs from the School District of Philadelphia?

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