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Maria McLaughlin, the Democratic candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, steps from the voting booth after casting a ballot in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

 

Pennsylvania voters made their choices Tuesday to fill open seats on statewide appeals courts, amid light turnout statewide and a marquee race for a seat on the state Supreme Court that will not change the Democrats’ majority on the state’s high court.

Polls closed nearly everywhere at 8 p.m., and early returns — predominantly from the Democratic bastions of Philadelphia and Allegheny County — began trickling in.

In the Philadelphia suburb of Montgomery County, a mix-up in delivering voting equipment resulted in a court order to allow two polling places in Norristown to stay open an hour later.

In nearby Delaware County, a court order allowed the county three extra days to accept and tabulate any of the approximately 5,500 ballots that a vendor mailed later than expected, as long as they were postmarked before polls closed.

Election officials otherwise reported no significant problems while turnout was expected to hit 25% to 30% of registered voters.

Democrats went into Election Day with a 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court that has played critical roles in settling fights over last year’s presidential election and Gov. Tom Wolf’s use of authority to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sole vacancy, opening with the mandatory retirement this year of Republican Justice Thomas Saylor, is being contested by two lower-court judges — Republican Kevin Brobson from Commonwealth Court and Democrat Maria McLaughlin from Superior Court.

There are also contested races for a single spot on Superior Court and two seats on Commonwealth Court.

 

Kevin Brobson, the Republican candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, leaves with his wife Lauren after they voted at their polling place at Fishing Creek Community Center, Nov. 2, 2021, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)Kevin Brobson, the Republican candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, walks out after he voted at his polling place at Fishing Creek Community Center, Nov. 2, 2021, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, right, arrives at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, in Philadelphia, with wife, Lisa M. Rau, to vote on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. Krasner is running for re-election against Republican candidate Charles Peruto. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)Maria McLaughlin, the Democratic candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, meets with voters in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

For Superior Court, former Chester County and state prosecutor Megan Sullivan, a Republican, faces Democrat Timika Lane, a Common Pleas Court judge in Philadelphia.

The Democrats seeking Commonwealth Court seats are Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Lori Dumas and Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge David Spurgeon. The Republicans are Bradford County lawyer Stacy Wallace and Drew Crompton, a former Senate GOP aide running for a permanent spot on the court after being appointed to it temporarily last year.

Four statewide judges are also seeking to stay on the bench for 10 more years in up-or-down “retention” races: Superior Court judges John Bender and Mary Jane Bowes and Commonwealth Court judges Anne Covey and Renee Cohn Jubelirer.

The judges who win could end up ruling in an array of high-profile cases pending in state courts, from abortion rights to public school funding to whether the state’s mail-in voting law is constitutional.

A voter wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus, steps from the voting booth after casting a ballot at a polling place in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Poll workers prepare the voting machines for the start of voting on Election Day at Falls of Schuylkill Branch of Free Library in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Philadelphia District Attorney candidate Chuck Peruto walks with his wife, Lindsey Peruto, to go and vote at the polling place in Trinity Memorial Church on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Philadelphia. (Tyger Williams/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Maria McLaughlin, the Democratic candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, meets with voters outside a polling place in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Maria McLaughlin, the Democratic candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, poses for a photograph in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

An election worker helps a voter in to booth at a polling place located in the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Kevin Brobson, the Republican candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, shakes hands with Ford Thompson, a local school board president, after he voted at his polling place at Fishing Creek Community Center, Nov. 2, 2021, in Harrisburg, Pa. With Brobson is his wife, Lauren. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

The most notable of the state’s mayoral contests is in Pittsburgh, where five-term state Rep. Ed Gainey is poised to become the city’s first African-American mayor. Gainey is heavily favored against Republican Tony Moreno. There are also contested mayoral races in Scranton and Harrisburg.

In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat, is seeking a second term against criminal defense lawyer Chuck Peruto, the Republican nominee.

Two special elections will fill open seats in Democratic-leaning districts in the state House of Representatives, one in the Scranton area and one in Delaware County.

For many voters, local races on the ballot Tuesday are the major attraction, contests that include county judge, district attorney, school board, district judge, mayor and city council.

Maria McLaughlin, the Democratic candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, center left, poses for a photograph with supporters in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

An election worker helps a voter into a booth at a polling place located at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)A voter wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus, steps from the voting booth after casting a ballot at a polling place at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Maria McLaughlin, the Democratic candidate for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court, meets with voters in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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