Philly heads to the polls for primary

poll watchers
Jack Tomczuk

Two drivers, in the span of 15 minutes, stopped Tuesday morning at Germantown Avenue and Sedgwick Street to tell state Rep. Chris Rabb they were behind him.

He just hopes they actually cast their vote.

“It’s a low voter turnout, which is always dispiriting because this is a one-party town,” said Rabb, a progressive who ran against fellow incumbent Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, after boundaries were shuffled during the redistricting process.

“If you don’t come out in a primary, the decision has already been made for you in November,” he added.

Philadelphians and voters from around the state took to the polls on primary day, nominating candidates for U.S. senate and governor and choosing state representatives, senators and party committee members.

In addition, more than 105,000 mail-in ballots were sent out to city residents, and 65% of those had been returned by Monday, according to the City Commissioners Office, which oversees elections in Philadelphia.

Election results were not reported until after Metro went to print. Go to for updated information.

Campaign signs for a contested state representative race on Rising Sun Avenue in Lawncrest. Jack Tomczuk

Perhaps proving Rabb’s theory and in spite of warm, sunny weather, turnout was low at the Lenfest Center, a community gathering place in Hunting Park. By 11 a.m., only seven people had voted in Gail Pryor’s 19th Division, part of the 43rd Ward.

“I’m expecting turnout to pick up after work,” said Pryor, who serves as the precinct’s judge of elections.

“To me, voting is important in general,” said insurance agent Yris Contreras, one of the few voters who trickled out of the community center.

In-person voting appeared to be going smoothly, at least through the afternoon, with just 18 reports of minor issues, such as electioneering, to the District Attorney Office’s Election Task Force, officials said.

Joe Hirt, 67, just moved to Mount Airy a couple of months ago from southern Ohio, but he made sure to re-register to vote under his new address before the primary.

“I think voting is a requirement of citizenship to try to improve your area,” he told Metro after casting his ballot at Lovett Memorial Library.

Cards with names of political affiliations and stickers are pictured, during the Pennsylvania primary elections at a polling place in the Gloria Dei Old Swedes Episcopal Church in Philadelphia on May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski

City Councilman Derek Green stood outside Lovett, handing voters sample ballots in his role as a local Democratic committee member.

He voted for and continues to support a ballot question that would expand the Zoning Board of Adjustment, outline qualifications for its members and require mayoral nominees to be approved by Council.

Opponents of the proposal have cast the move as power grab by lawmakers eager to halt development.

“We’ve got a lot of changes that are happening in the city, and we need to have a balance of perspectives in reference to how we balance both development and also interests of the neighbors,” Green said.

A voter casts their ballot in the Pennsylvania primary elections at a polling place in the Mummers Museum in Philadelphia, May 17, 2022.REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski

The potential overturn of Roe v. Wade, which could affect abortion rights across the country, including in Pennsylvania, was on the mind of Anya, a voter in Lawncrest who declined to provide her last name.

“I think that women should have the choice to do what they want with their bodies,” she said.

A man who refused to give his name, and expressed distrust in the media, said he was voting to “get rid of Democrats,” who he blamed for baby formula shortages, high gas prices and other issues.

“I voted for Kathy Barnette because I think she best reflects Republican values,” he said outside Lawncrest Recreation Center in Northeast Philadelphia. “She’s quick on her feet.”

Barnette, a surging GOP candidate in the U.S. Senate primary, made headlines Monday when photos surfaced, discovered by left-wing activist Chad Loder, showing her marching alongside two now-indicted members of the far-right Proud Boys near the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

She reportedly denied connections to the extremist group, and polling shows Barnette is in a close race with celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick.

Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz gives a thumbs up to a passing vehicle as he greets voters outside of a polling location during the primary election in Rockledge, Pennsylvania, May 17, 2022.REUTERS/Hannah Beier

North Philadelphia-based state Rep. Danilo Burgos told Metro that he is disappointed in the rhetoric of the Republican Senate and gubernatorial hopefuls.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re still debating Roe v. Wade,” he said Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that we’re still debating the right to vote.”

On the Democratic side, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the lone candidate for governor, said early Tuesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing “mild symptoms.”

Shapiro’s campaign said he “will be back on the campaign trail next week and will kick off the general election campaign in Johnstown,” where he was scheduled to hold an election night rally.

Gisele Barreto Fetterman, left, wife of Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate for Pennsylvania, talks with reporters outside her polling place after voting in Braddock, Pa., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Democratic U.S. Senate favorite John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, used an emergency absentee ballot to vote from Lancaster General Hospital, where he has been recovering since suffering a stroke Friday.

As voters headed to the polls, Fetterman was scheduled for a “standard procedure” to implant a pacemaker to help him deal with an irregular heartbeat, which caused the stroke, campaign officials said.

U.S. Rep. Connor Lamb and North Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta are the other Democratic Senate contenders.