Tomorrow’s Two Ballot Questions for Every Party

Tomorrow's primary election is largely a partisan affair in which only registered Republicans or Democrats can vote for the presidential nominee and nominees for state office.

But there is one constitutional amendment on the ballot, that everyone—including independent voters—can vote on.

The ballot question seeks to eliminate the Philadelphia Traffic Court by striking all mention of the court  from the Pennsylvania Constitution. It reads:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court?

Why is this an issue? In 2013, the Philadelphia Municipal Court took over the functions of the Philadelphia Traffic Court after a damning report on corruption. The Post-Gazette summarizes the sorry history of the court:

For four decades, Philadelphia’s traffic court made headlines for all the wrong reasons. In 1978 the president judge was indicted, and later convicted, of taking $32,000 in bribes and gifts. In the 1980s a ticket-fixing scheme involving $100,000 in illegal payoffs ended in the conviction of 12 people. . . Finally, in 2013, three of the traffic court’s judges pleaded guilty to ticket fixing in exchange for gifts and four others were found guilty of lying to a grand jury or federal agents.

There's also a second ballot question that asks voters if they support raising the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. The question will appear on Tuesday's ballot, but your vote won't count.

This spring, the state Supreme Court rejected a Senate Republican request to revise the wording of the ballot question.

In response, the legislature passed a resolution to move the ballot question to the November election. Here's the text that will appear on Tuesday's ballot:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70.

The question would affect several judges nearing the current mandatory retirement age of 70.