MAY 18, 2021 PRIMARY ELECTION VOTER GUIDE
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In addition to the statewide races and ballot questions, which can be found here, registered Bucks County Republicans and Democrats will select nominees for District Attorney, Sheriff, Prothonotary, Recorder of Deeds and Controller, as well as one seat on the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas and six Magisterial District Court judgeships and numerous municipal and School Board offices. Also nominated will be candidates for Judge of Elections and Inspector of Election.
The District Attorney prosecutes crimes committed in the county. The DA’s office is comprised of 32 attorneys, 16 county detectives and 30 support personnel, and works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement to ensure the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are upheld and that citizens are protected. The District Attorney has authority over all criminal investigations and prosecutions in the county. The office handles approximately 11,000 criminal cases a year, including 7,500 adult offenders in the Court of Common Pleas and 2,500 juvenile offenders in Juvenile Court. It employs detectives and attorneys specialized in the investigation and prosecution of all types of criminal conduct. The DA’s salary (2019) was $185,665.
The county Sheriff has diverse responsibilities: to keep the peace, quell riots, transport prisoners for their appearance in court, enforce commitments of incarceration, serve civil process, conduct sheriff’s sales of real estate, execute bench warrants, enforce court orders and assist other law-enforcement agencies. (Here’s a thumbnail history of the office.) The Sheriff oversees a staff of some 70 employees. The annual salary is $83,250.
The office of the Prothonotary is the Clerk of the Civil Division of the Court of Common Pleas. This elected row officer has administrative control over and responsibility for all official documents and records of the civil and family divisions. It is the duty of the office to record such legal documents as appeals, assignments, commencement of actions, equity, divorce, complaints, executions, final orders, judgments, liens, name-change petitions, signatures of notaries’ public, satisfactions, subpoena's, exceptions to judicial or tax sales, revivals and minor's compromise. Additionally, the office also initiates judgments entered by magisterial district justices to the Court of Common Pleas. The Prothonotary also processes appeals from the magisterial district justices to the Court of Common Pleas as well as appeals from the Court of Common Pleas to the Superior, Supreme and Commonwealth Courts. The Prothonotary, who oversees approximately 30 employees, earns $32,250 annually.
Recorder of Deeds
The Recorder of Deeds office houses records from 1684 to the present, handling as many as 25 different kinds of documents in addition to deeds and mortgages. Some of them include mausoleum permits, sewer permits, cattle brands and filings under the Uniform Commercial Code. The office also records military-discharge records. The Recorder of Deeds oversees some 20 employees. The salary is $82,250 a year.
The Controller is the county's chief financial officer and auditor, exercising general supervision and control over its financial affairs. The Controller is authorized to examine the accounts and official acts of all officers or other persons who collect, receive, or disperse the county's money. The controller sits on the retirement board, salary board and prison oversight board, and is the final, independent check on the fiscal activities of the executive and legislative branches of county government as well as the independently elected officers and courts.
Court of Common Pleas
The Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, a class 2A county, is the 7th Judicial District of Pennsylvania. First established in 1683, it hears all Criminal, Civil, Family, and Orphan's (Probate) matters. The Court consists of 15 judges, and is located in Doylestown. It supervises all Adult Probation, Juvenile Probation (including the Bucks County Youth Center), and Domestic Relations services, the Law Library, and provides administrative services for a 20-court system of limited jurisdiction courts (special courts) - issuing authority in all felony and misdemeanor cases, and hears all traffic and summary cases. It has concurrent jurisdiction in civil cases where the amount in controversy is less than $12,000. Terms are 10 years and the mandatory retirement age is 75. The annual salary for the judges is $186,665 and $188,292 for the president judge.
Magisterial District Court
Bucks County has 18 Magisterial District Courts located throughout the county, with approximately 113 judicial clerks supporting the 18 judges. These courts are responsible for adjudicating all traffic and non-traffic citations as well as processing criminal and private criminal complaints, including arraignments and preliminary hearings. Magisterial District judges also hear civil and landlord-tenant complaints up to a jurisdictional limit of $12,000 as well as parking violations. The courts handle approximately 130,000 cases annually, accept approximately $16,000,000 in fines and process approximately 10,000 criminal cases annually. And Magisterial District judges, as officers of the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System, may administer oaths and affirmations and take acknowledgments. They also have authority to perform marriages. Terms are six years and the mandatory retirement age is 75. The salary is $93,338.
Judge of Election and Inspector of Election
In Pennsylvania, three of the five people who run each polling place on Election Day are elected officials themselves. These positions are Judge of Election and Majority and Minority Inspectors of Election.
The Judge of Election has ultimate responsibility for the conduct of a polling place and the personnel working there, and must take an oath to admit only those voters who are properly registered and entitled to vote, to prevent fraud, deceit or abuse, and to make sure that all votes at the end of the day are accurately tabulated. The Judge is also responsible for opening and closing the polls, and for all the paperwork required on Election Day.
The Majority and Minority Inspectors are responsible for checking voters’ registration documents and preparing certificates to authorize voters to cast their ballots. They ensure that the voting process is legal and administered fairly by verifying the signatures of voters as they sign the poll book. The Inspectors are also responsible for checking to be sure the voting machine numbers are accurate at the end of the day.
Candidates must be 18 years old.
IMPORTANT ELECTION DAY INFORMATION
Voters with questions or issues on Election Day should call the proper authorities:
For voter registration, polling location or other procedural issues 215-348-6154
Report potential election law violations to the District Attorney 215-348-6344