By Lily Vining || Contributing Writer

The 2020 election is on track to bring out a surge of young voters, especially in swing states like Pennsylvania. While 51% of registered 18-34 year-olds said that they were “very enthusiastic” to cast their vote in this year’s presidential election, many fail to recognize the significance of local officials on the ballot, as well. Local government officials have control over public works, roads, city spending, public education, police, and justice reform. Even if you are not originally from Lancaster, it is your responsibility to choose candidates who will govern according to your values and needs. This is, after all, your home for four years.

Below are the offices up for election this year, the candidates running, and a summary of their positions on key topics:

United States: President 

Donald J. Trump, Republican

Mike Pence, Running mate

  • Criminal justice: fund and hire more law enforcement, increase criminal punishments, bring extremist groups to justice
  • Taxes: cut taxes to bring back manufacturing to the USA
  • Environment: Withdrew from Paris Climate Agreement, roll back environmental protections, expand fossil fuel production
  • Abortion: Claims to be “pro-life” except in circumstances of rape, incest, or harm to the mother, appointed pro-life justices Supreme Court
  • COVID: develop a vaccine in 2020, return to normal by 2021

Joe Biden, Democrat

Kamala D. Harris, Running mate

  • Criminal justice: Criminal justice reform without defunding police, fund juvenile justice, mandate that those facing drug charges be sent to treatment, not jail
  • Taxes: raise corporate taxes, no tax increase for those making less than $400,000
  • Environment: Transition US in 100% clean energy by 2035, will not ban fracking, invest in renewable energy
  • Abortion: “Do everything” to end abortion restrictions, establish Roe v. Wade as law
  • COVID: expand testing, tracing, and access to PPE

Jo Jorgensen, Libertarian

Spike Cohen, Running mate

  • Criminal Justice: decriminalize drugs, end unjust incarceration based on race
  • Economy: end government shutdowns and barriers to job creation
  • Environment: remove barriers to replacing coal and oil
  • Taxes: reduce taxes and government spending
  • COVID: expand access to testing and treatment

Congress: US House Pennsylvania District 11

Lloyd Smucker, Republican (Incumbent)

  • Economy: tax cuts 
  • Healthcare: voted to repeal Obamacare
  • Environment: provide incentives to private landowners to protect the environment instead of imposing federal restrictions
  • Immigration: tighter border security, criminalize visa overstays

Sarah Hammond, Democrat

  • Abortion: supports the constitutional right to choose, provide services to lower-income communities
  • Economy: invest in farmers and support strong trade deals
  • Environment: prioritize reversing the climate crisis
  • Immigration: acknowledges Lancaster city as a “Welcome City” for refugees and their positive impact on the community

State: Pennsylvania Auditor General:

Nina Ahmad, Democrat

  • Abortion: protect access to reproductive healthcare for all
  • Environment: prevent severe weather events, transition to non-polluting energy
  • Economy: “enthusiastically” supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hour
  • Immigration: as an immigrant herself, she supports justice for immigrants

Timothy DeFoor, Republican

  • Economy: getting COVID funds to individuals and local businesses most affected
  • Taxes: cut government spending and give more say to the state government
  • Government: “more transparent” government actions, informing the public of where taxes are going

Olivia Faison, Green Party

  • Government: background is not in politics, but “sees a need” to join
  • Economy: create local jobs, support small businesses and nonprofits
  • Agriculture: support rural farmers
  • Environment: end “domino effect” of climate change at the source

Jennifer Moore, Libertarian

  • Government: Pennsylvania needs an independent auditor general to monitor spending 

Attorney General of Pennsylvania:

Josh Shapiro, Democrat (Incumbent)

  • Civil Rights: supporting rights for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and minorities, protect reproductive rights
  • Criminal Justice: reforming the justice system and reduce the prison population
  • Environment: access to clean air and water as rights

Heather Heidelbaugh, Republican

  • Government: end corruption in form of fraud and cheat tax payment
  • Economy: reduce spending, lower taxes
  • Law: 35 years of experience as a lawyer, favors “common-sense” public policy

Richard Weiss, Green Party

  • Criminal justice: end cash bail, decriminalize drug use, enforce strong police professionalism standards

Daniel Wassmer, Libertarian

  • Abortion: support the right to life, end funding to Planned Parenthood
  • Economy: ensure livable income, free enterprise, right to public property
  • Religion and government: does not support the legalization of gay marriage, protect freedom of Christians
  • Immigration: supports “constructing a wall” and tightening immigration legislation

Pennsylvania Treasurer:

Joseph Torsella, Democrat (Incumbent)

  • Government: supports government transparency, public integrity
  • Education: universal college savings and individual retirement accounts
  • Economy: provide support to low and middle-income families

Stacy Garrity, Republican

  • Government: full transparency of spending
  • Military: former colonel in US Army
  • Taxes: reduce taxes and give money back to the people
  • Education: help students start and maintain accounts to make education more affordable

Timothy Runkle, Green Party

  • Environment/Economy: end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, end fracking, land preservation
  • Criminal Justice: prevention and supporting victims

Joseph Soloski, Libertarian

  • Government: implement term limits for legislators at the state level
  • Taxes: reduce state spending, eliminate state inheritance taxes

Pennsylvania State Senate District 13:

Scott Martin, Republican (Incumbent)

  • COVID: support emergency funding to hospitals and health systems, expand testing
  • Taxes: end tax increases, redistribute money to public schools
  • Economy: support farm-based business, streamline regulations for trade

Janet Diaz, Democrat

  • Economy: support farmers and battle climate change 
  • Environment: conserve natural resources, provide clean air
  • Civil Rights: end discrimination based on race, sex, religion, sexuality
  • Wages: raise the minimum wage and support low-income families

Pennsylvania House of Representatives District 96

P. Michael Sturla, Democrat (Incumbent)

  • Civil Rights: “we cannot wait” to address racism

Whether this is your first time voting or not, the elections this year are far from ordinary and have left many with burning last-minute questions. If you find yourself with any of the common questions below, be sure to keep reading:

  • I registered to vote in Lancaster and sent in my mail-in ballot already. What’s next?

Congrats! You can check the status of your ballot here.

  • “I never sent in my ballot, what do I do?”

If you have not yet sent your ballot, you must now drop it off in person instead. You may either bring your ballot to the Election Office on 150 N. Queen Street, Suite 117 in Lancaster, or drop it in the ballot collection receptacle in the Chestnut Street entrance lobby, right before the security station. The lobby will be open Monday, November 2nd, from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on election day, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

  • “I applied for a mail-in ballot but did not send it. Can I vote in person?”

Yes, you are allowed to vote in person if you did not send in your ballot before election day. The polling location for F&M students is Lancaster Theological Seminary-Schaff Library, 555 W. James Street, Lancaster, PA 17603.

You may go to your polling place with your mail-in ballot and return the envelope to surrender. If you do not have this, you will still have the option to vote provisionally, and the county Board of Elections will scan your ballot to confirm that they have not previously received your mail-in.

For more frequently asked questions, please refer to the Lancaster County Board of Elections website.

Make your vote count!

First-year Lily Vining is a contributing writer. Her email is