PA Constitutional amendment, local races on ballot

Voters heading to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5, will not only have the chance to cast ballots to choose local leaders, but also to help decide if a Marsy’s Law amendment to the state constitution garners approval.

If passed, Marsy’s Law would establish a crime victims’ bill of rights and amend Article 1 of the Pennsylvania constitution.

The ACLU opposes the measure. In a memorandum issued to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the ACLU offered:

“The criminal justice system absolutely owes victims the right to be treated with fairness and respect. Victims are owed the right to be notified of all court proceedings and to be heard at sentencing after the accused is convicted. But the focus on “balancing” victims’ rights against the accused (and in support of the government’s prosecutorial power) runs contrary to the reason why the Bill of Rights was enshrined in the Constitution – namely, to protect the accused, particularly those who are marginalized and unpopular, from government overreach. The state provides constitutional rights to the accused in criminal proceedings because the state is attempting to deprive the accused – not the victim – of life, liberty, and property.”

The ACLU also notes that the law could have unforeseen consequences. “A constitutional amendment, if enacted, is not flexible,” the memorandum states.

The state senate approved the measure in June, clearing the way for Marsy’s Law to appear on the November ballot. “Marsy’s Law ensures victims have enforceable rights and protections that are equal to those of their perpetrators, and we appreciate the Senate’s overwhelming support of this important issue,” said Jennifer Riley, state director for Marsy’s Law, in June of this year.

Local races

Voters will find few contested elections on their Nov. 5 ballot.

In countywide races, incumbent office holders – District Attorney Marion O’Malley. Treasurer Jason Miller, Register/ Recorder Michelle Estabrook, and Coroner Anthony Conarton – are all unopposed. There are three candidates seeking election to the three county auditor posts – incumbent Richard Suraci is joined on the ballot by Bob DeLuca and Richard Ainey.

There are four candidates vying for three county commissioner seats. Of those candidates, three are incumbents seeking re-election.

Candidates for the four-year term include  (in ballot order): MaryAnn Warren (D) seeking her fifth term in office; Judy Herschel (D) who campaigned as part of the Bootstrap campaign in the primary; Alan Hall (R) seeking a third term; and Elizabeth “Betsy” Arnold (R) looking to be re-elected to a second term.

The unofficial ballot can be found on the county website,, on the Voter Registration page.

Polls are open Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Check the county website for polling places.

Oct. 29 is the final day to apply for an absentee ballot; and civilian absentee ballots must be received by Nov. 1.

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