Double-duty for Allegheny election judge

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Election day marriage

Paula Reed Ward has a nice story on a lucky couple trying to get married today . . . with the courts closed (for some reason) on election day:

Matthew Cooper and Xinyue Zong spent part of a break from their University of Pittsburgh finals roaming the empty halls of the City-County building Downtown trying to find a judge who might be able to marry them.

But courts are closed for Election Day.

The two graduate students -- Mr. Cooper, 25, who studies international development, and Ms. Zong, 25, who studies public administration -- struck out in several places.

But they lucked out when they stumbled upon election court on the seventh floor.

"We were lucky today," Ms. Zong said. " ... As we were sadly walking away, a man came out and said 'come here, come here.'"

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski, assigned to handle any election matters that come up until 4 p.m. today was happy to perform the nuptials.

He estimates he's done more than a dozen ceremonies.

Just as the judge said, "The union you are about to enter is a solemn and sacred one," the phone rang in the courtroom about an election matter.

The ceremony took four minutes.

The couple plans to have a church wedding May 12 in Rhode Island, where Mr. Cooper is from.

After graduation -- Mr. Cooper defended his master's thesis this morning -- they plan to live in Boston, Pittsburgh or return to Ms. Zong's native China.


IDs, please

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The P-G's Dan Majors hits polling places to talk voter ID:

Green Tree residents David and Sandra Gerlach vote in every election. Mr. Gerlach, a local parole officer, said he considers it "a privilege."

And showing a photo ID for the privilege? Well, he's just fine with that.

"I'm glad they passed it," said Mr. Gerlach, 61. "You have to show your ID for lots of other things. At the airport, at the bank, lots of things."

"Why should it be a problem? Unless you've got something to hide," said Ms. Gerlach.

The photo ID requirement is new, put in place this year by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett. It actually takes effect with the election in November, but authorities are having poll workers ask for IDs in today's primary balloting -- to get poll workers and voters familiar with the process.

Voters today did not have to show an ID when asked, but they will have to do so in November.


Voter ID reaction video

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Happy primary election day.

We're hearing anecdotal tales of low turnout all around the Pittsburgh area (where the official forecast in Allegheny County at least was 25% of registered voters), but beyond that very little. Our newsroom is more abuzz with the arrest of fugutive Kenneth Konias in Florida and former state Democratic majority leader Bill DeWeese's 2 1/2 to 5 year prison sentence for public corruption.

The state House campaign of Erin Molchany in the 22nd District was forced to take down signs saying votes for Shawn Lunny wouldn't be counted, when a District Judge said that would hurt Lunny's write-in chances. Molchany's team needs to keep Lunny's totals low to keep up with Marty Schmotzer, the endorsed Democrat there.

The most interesting thing facing every voter statewide, Republican or Democrat, is the test run of the new voter ID bill. Post-Gazette videographer Nate Guidry got the reactions above.



Programming note

Published by Tim McNulty on .

WheatiesEarly Returns is eating its Wheaties and prepping for a full night of primary election coverage, though it won't start in earnest until this afternoon.

In the meantime This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any stories, tips or anecdotes you see at the polls and we'll try to post them later. Even simple turnout numbers could be interesting -- at our local poll at a North Side senior center, a total of 12 people had voted in the first three hours since balloting started. We'd also like to hear about your voter ID experience -- at our poll, workers didn't ask for ID but handed over an information sheet explaining what to bring in November.


Altmire: Regional turnout key in 12th

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Rather than renting a hotel ballroom and holding a party like most pols, Jason Altmire will spend his biggest election night since 2006 casting votes in Congress.

The three-term McCandless Democrat is fiercely attached to his record of never having missed a vote since joining Congress in January 2007 and will not miss one tomorrow, despite what looks to be a close primary against fellow Democrat Mark Critz of Johnstown. (Critz will be at his hometown's Holiday Inn.)altmirecake

"I wish we didn't have votes tomorrow but I have been elected to sdo a job and part of that job is voting. That's what comes first," he said in an inteview at his campaign office in Lower Burrell. "I'm not going to miss votes for politics."

Much of the battle in the race's closing weeks has been over funding for Social Security and Medicare, and both Critz and Altmire were on KDKA radio today still jousting over their voting histories and making in-person pitches to seniors. Altmire addressed a small group at a Lower Burrell senior center in the afternoon on that subject and others before descending on the American flag sheet cake (right) his campaign provided.

With about two-thirds of the new 12th District are in his old, North Hills based seat, regional turnout will be the main factor in who wins Tuesday, he said.

"You'll be able to tell on election night, if turnout is uniform across the district, relatively the same, that's good for me. Obviously if turnout is higher in Johnstown than in other parts of the district that's good for Mark. He has an all-out effort to get the votes in Johnstown, that's where the union organizers are focusing their attention, and we're doing just as much on our end to make sure we get the vote out in this part of the district."

And those votes Altmire will be taking rather than being back in the district? Six of them, largely having to do with park land in New Mexico, Minnesota and Idaho.