(The Center Square) – The latest updates Tuesday as Pennsylvania votes for president, Congress and more.

3:38 p.m.: Mail-in ballots topped 2.5 million in Pennsylvania

Mail-in ballots that were turned in by Pennsylvania voters were about 64 percent Democratic and only about 23 percent Republican, with the rest coming from smaller parties and independent voters.

Politico reported Tuesday that the 1.6 million Democratic ballots had been returned, 586,000 Republican ballots and 278,000 third-party or independent.

The more than 2.5 million mail-in ballots already returned are a significant number in a state that saw about 5.9 million total votes in the 2016 election.

2:49 p.m.: A key to history for the Keystone State

Pennsylvania has always been a priority for presidential candidates, dating back to the very first contested election in 1796, when Thomas Jefferson narrowly carried the state by 289 votes of rival John Adams.

Unfortunately for Jefferson, Adams was able to cobble together enough support elsewhere to claim the presidency as New York and the New England states uniformly supported the Northern candidate.

Until the 1850s, the nation didn’t have the long-established parties it knows today, with parties such as the Whig, Anti-Masonic and Know Nothing parties contesting the presidency.

For an 80-year span starting just before the Civil War, Pennsylvania was a reliably Republican state when it came to the presidential election, with one notable exception. In 1912, former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt came out of retirement and founded the Progressive Party to take on his successor, Republican President William Taft.

Roosevelt, a former New York governor, earned the backing of Pennsylvania in that election, but he and Taft split the traditional Republican voters, clearing the way for Democrat Woodrow Wilson to claim the presidency.

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt became the first Democrat to win Pennsylvania since James Buchanan in 1856. He’d lost the Keystone State in 1932 to incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover, but after his breakthrough, he went on to win it again in 1940 and 1944.

2:49 p.m.: A key to history for the Keystone State

Pennsylvania has always been a priority for presidential candidates, dating back to the very first contested election in 1796, when Thomas Jefferson narrowly carried the state by 289 votes of rival John Adams.

Unfortunately for Jefferson, Adams was able to cobble together enough support elsewhere to claim the presidency as New York and the New England states uniformly supported the Northern candidate.

Until the 1850s, the nation didn’t have the long-established parties it knows today, with parties such as the Whig, Anti-Masonic and Know Nothing parties contesting the presidency.

For an 80-year span starting just before the Civil War, Pennsylvania was a reliably Republican state when it came to the presidential election, with one notable exception. In 1912, former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt came out of retirement and founded the Progressive Party to take on his successor, Republican President William Taft.

Roosevelt, a former New York governor, earned the backing of Pennsylvania in that election, but he and Taft split the traditional Republican voters, clearing the way for Democrat Woodrow Wilson to claim the presidency.

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt became the first Democrat to win Pennsylvania since James Buchanan in 1856. He’d lost the Keystone State in 1932 to incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover, but after his breakthrough, he went on to win it again in 1940 and 1944.

Since then, Pennsylvania has oscillated between the two major parties. In 18 subsequent elections, it has gone for Republicans eight times and for Democrats 10 times.

7:06 a.m.: What’s at stake in Pennsylvania

The polls are open in Pennsylvania, and voters there are casting their ballots today with the eyes of the nation upon them in a presidential election that may very well hinge all the aptly nicknamed Keystone State.

One of a number of swing states, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes might be enough to swing the race to Republican President Donald Trump or Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden.

Polls have consistently shown Biden with a single-digit lead in Pennsylvania, but in recent days those numbers have been just outside the margin of error, giving Trump supporters hope that the president can come from behind as he did in 2016.

Pennsylvania voters will also be picking candidates for 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and both chambers of the state Legislature are up for grabs as well.

Among the key Congressional battles is the one for the 10th Congressional District, where Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry is being challenged by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat.

In the 7th Congressional District, first term Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild must fend off a challenge from Republican Lisa Scheller, a former Lehigh County Commissioner.

And in the 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican, is seeking his third term in Congress, going up against Democrat Christina Finello, deputy director of the Bucks County Department of Housing and Human Services.

If the attention of the nation does fall on Pennsylvania, there might be a bit of a wait for conclusive results as some counties are holding off on even beginning to prepare absentee ballots for counting until Wednesday.

Polls in Pennsylvania close at 8 p.m. – and then the counting begins.

Dave Lemery is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He was the editor of Suburban Life Media when its flagship newspaper was named best weekly in Illinois, and he has worked at papers in South Carolina, Indiana, Idaho and New York.

This piece was originally published in The Center Square. Read the original article here.

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