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 Delaware County Republicans and Democrats will select nominees for County Council (two seats), Sheriff, Controller and Register of Wills, as well as two Common Pleas Court judgeships, seats on Magisterial District Courts and numerous municipal and School Board offices. Also nominated will be candidates for Judge of Elections and Inspector of Election.
Delaware County, the first county in Pennsylvania to adopt Home Rule (in 1976), is governed by the five-member County Council that resulted from the decision. Council is responsible for all legislative and administrative functions of the County government. Although Council oversees all county departments, the Executive Director, a County Council appointee, is directly responsible for the operations of certain departments as outlined in the Home Rule Charter or Administrative Code, or as assigned by the Executive Director and the County Clerk. Legal guidance and representation is provided by the Solicitor. Members of Council are elected to four-year terms at staggered two-year intervals in odd-numbered years, when municipal elections are held. Council organizes the first Monday of each even-numbered year, when the members elect one of their own to serve as Chair and as Vice Chair. Each year, Council is responsible for adopting a budget, which sets personal and real-estate tax rates and fees to raise the funds needed to meet the needs of the budget. To raise money for major capital projects, Council sells tax-exempt municipal bonds. Many social programs are primarily funded by federal and state grants, which are forwarded to the County or distribution. Payroll scales and the number of employees necessary to perform County services, including judicial offices, are set by Council. Council decides the best means of providing services required by law or are necessary for the well-being of the County, and determines the degree of participation of the County in the intergovernmental programs involving federal, state and local governments. County Council is involved in such diverse activities as economic development, public transportation, waste disposal, human services, housing, land use and culture.
Established in 1789, the Delaware County Sheriff’s office provides security and protection for the county’s Court of Common Pleas and Juvenile Court, including courtroom security and prisoner transportation. The office also serves and enforces court orders, injunctions and warrants, out of county protection-from-abuse orders (PFA), writs of summons and complaints, subpoenas, and writs of attachment and garnishments. And it issues firearms licenses and oversees sheriff sales of real estate.
The Delaware County Controller’s office serves as the county’s official fiscal watchdog, overseeing its payroll, internal audits, retirement accounts, accounts payable and the county’s accounting system.
Register of Wills
The principal duty of the Delaware County Register of Wills is the probate of wills and acceptances for filing of the the documents necessary to complete the administration of a decedent’s estate. If a Delaware County resident dies without a will, the register, upon petition, will appoint an administrator of the estate. The Register is also the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s authorized agent for the collection of the inheritance tax. The position is quasi-judicial, giving it the authority to conduct a hearing to determine who should be appointed executor or administrator to an estate. The Register also serves a Clerk of Orphans’ Court, making it the filing office for and custodian of adoption records, guardianships and estate litigation. And the Register issues marriage licenses for Delaware County.
Delaware County Court of Common Pleas
The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas is a general jurisdiction trial court located in Media. It’s 17 full-time judges and five senior judges hear a wide spectrum of cases, including adult and juvenile criminal prosecutions, lawsuits involving money or property, divorce, custody disputes, child support issues, adoptions and estates. Candidates for seats on the Court of Common Pleas must be residents of their districts for at least one year and members of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Bar at the time of filing nomination petitions for office. Terms are for 10 years and the mandatory retirement age is 75. The salary is $188,292 for the president judge and $186,665 for the other judges.
Delaware County Magisterial District Courts
The Magisterial District Court is the first level of judicial authority in Pennsylvania and is the court where most people experience the judicial system for the first time. There are 30 Magisterial District Courts located in offices throughout Delaware County. An elected Magisterial District Judge presides over each of the individual Magisterial District Courts. Magisterial District Judges handle all traffic cases, other minor criminal cases and civil cases involving amounts up to $12,000. District Judges also set bail and conduct preliminary hearings in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases to determine if the cases should be dismissed or transferred to the Court of Common Pleas for further proceedings. Magisterial District judges may also administer oaths and affirmations, and take acknowledgements. They also have authority to perform marriages. Candidates for seats on the Magisterial District Courts must be residents of their districts for at least one year and members of the Pennsylvania Bar or be certified by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts as having successfully completing a rigorous training and education program administered by the Minor Judiciary Education Board. Terms are for six years and the mandatory retirement age is 75. The annual 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 questions regarding voter registration or polling location 610-891-4659
For questions or concerns about the ballot or candidate legal matter 610-891-4673
Report potential election law violations to the Delaware Co. District Attorney 610-891-4161