Pennsylvania’s election is on November 7, 2023. Several statewide offices will be on the ballot this year, including critical judgeships on the Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth courts. These courts play a central role in ensuring equal access to the ballot, fair representation, environmental protections, workers’ rights, abortion access, and much more. Use the New Pennsylvania Project’s website to make sure you’re registered and have a plan to vote. Learn more about the issues at stake below and about the candidates here!
Here are the key dates that you need to know to make sure you’re ready for November’s election:
|October 23, 2023||Last day to register before election
|October 31, 2023||Last day to request an absentee ballot. Applications must be received by your county election board by 5pm. Find your county election board here.
|November 7, 2023||Election day!
All voted ballots must be received by the county board of election (see below for miliary/overseas) no later than 8pm.
|November 14, 2023||Last day for the county board of elections to receive oversea or military absentee ballots
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is currently controlled by a 4-2 Democratic majority with one vacancy. Candidates are running to replace Chief Justice Max Baer (D), who passed away in 2022. Under Pennsylvania’s judicial selection method, justices are elected by partisan election for their first term, and are reelected via uncontested retention elections for subsequent terms. If Republicans win in November, Democrats would only maintain a slim majority and could open an opportunity for Republicans to take control of the court in 2025.
The court has been at the nexus of all of the Commonwealth’s important democracy issues. There are multiple examples of how, without the pro-democracy Democratic majority on the court, Republican extremists in the state legislature could have rigged the entire government in their favor. In 2018, the court prevented an extremely partisan gerrymandered map from Republican legislatures from being implemented. The court also blocked illegitimate voter fraud cases in the 2020 election, protecting the integrity of our elections.
Due to these decisions, the court has been subject to a number of unwarranted partisan attacks from Republicans in the state legislature. For example, following the court’s ruling overturning of Republican gerrymandered maps, there was a push to impeach—or remove from bench—the justices that decided against them. Additionally, conservatives in the legislature have attempted to change the way that justices are elected in an effort break apart statewide elections into judicial districts.
Within this context, Pennsylvanians must vote in these critical judicial elections. Pennsylvania voters deserve a supreme court that protects their fundamental rights. Otherwise, partisan actors will continue their attempts to chip away at our constitutional freedoms.
Fair Representation: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been central to protecting and maintaining a fair democracy in the commonwealth. Following the 2010 census, state house Republicans drew maps giving Republicans a distinct and unfair advantage in congressional representation. In their partisan gerrymandering, Republicans effectively disenfranchised Democrats across four districts. Without the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order for the creation of new maps, these voters would have been deprived of fair representation.
Democracy: Beyond fair representation, the court has delivered consequential rulings on voters’ right to have their voice counted. Just last year, the court protected Pennsylvanians’ ability to vote by mail for any reason. Republicans in the legislature challenged the commonwealth’s law allowing no-excuse mail voting, but the court upheld it, protecting equal access to the ballot. Moreover, during the pandemic in 2020, the court protected the safety of voters, allowing drop boxes, additional time to solve issues with ballots (or curing ballots) and prevented ballots from being thrown out due to signature matching. The court also blocked illegitimate claims of voter fraud following the 2020 election.
Workers’ Rights: Issues such as paid sick leave and eligibility for overtime pay have come before the court. While many would assume that basic workplace protections such as sick leave are already firmly established, they can still be challenged by employers in Pennsylvania. Pittsburg’s paid sick leave policy was challenged by employers just a few years ago, but thanks to the pro-worker court majority, the law was held in place. The court has also expanded protections for individuals experiencing discrimination in the workplace.
Abortion: Conservatives in the state legislature have not been shy about their agenda to drastically limit abortion access in the state. Right before their summer recess in June of 2022, the conservative-controlled legislature rushed to pass a major anti-abortion constitutional amendment attempting to eliminate the right to abortion (while also trying to mandate voter ID). In Pennsylvania, if a constitutional amendment passes the legislature in two consecutive sessions, it will be brought forward to a statewide vote. However, this year, Democrats secured a one-seat majority in the House chamber. While it is unlikely the amendment would pass this year, there is the evergreen threat that conservatives will bring anti-abortion cases before the court as we’ve seen in dozens of other states.
Judge Daniel McCaffery (left) and Judge Carolyn Carluccio (right)
Judge Daniel McCaffery
Judge Daniel McCaffery has served as a judge on the First Judicial District Court and currently on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. McCaffery was first elected as judge on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in 2019. Prior to this role, he served as a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. McCaffery also served as a District Attorney prior to his time as an attorney in private practice. McCaffery has been endorsed by the Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood in addition to gaining wide support from labor unions and workers. Prior to his service as a judge, McCaffery would lend his legal expertise to dozens of progressive campaigns and candidates in addition to the Democratic Party. McCaffery opposes legal attacks on abortion and civil rights. As a judge, he understands that the law has to work for everyone, not just corporations and the wealthy and powerful.
Judge Carolyn Carluccio
Judge Carolyn Carluccio is currently a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, where she was first elected in 2009. Prior to her service as a judge, Carluccio was Assistant US Attorney in Delaware. Carluccio was also Deputy Solicitor for Montgomery County and Chief Public Defender for Montgomery County. Carluccio has been endorsed by the Republican Party as well as the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. However, recent coverage has highlighted Carluccio’s attempts to hide her pro-life views, wiping them from her website.
Paid for by AFJ Action Campaign, not affiliated with any candidate or candidate’s committee.