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4 things to know about Jill Biden’s Pennsylvania roots

We hear a lot about Joe Biden’s Scranton roots, but Jill Biden also grew up in the politically pivotal Keystone State.

Jill Biden outside the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia in September.
Jill Biden outside the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia in September.Read moreJESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

To cover how Pennsylvania is shaping the 2020 election, The Philadelphia Inquirer has launched a new email newsletter. Every Wednesday, you’ll get reporting from counties across the state, insight into issues that impact you, fact checks on what candidates are saying, and more. You can sign up to get it in your inbox here. You can also view the web version of this email.

President Donald Trump took his coronavirus recovery tour to Johnstown last night, where he told supporters he can now relate to Americans impacted by the pandemic. “I feel your pain because I felt your pain,” he said.

Johnstown, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, is becoming one of the most visited places in the state. Between it and Scranton in the northeast, both campaigns are focusing more on the Rust Belt towns Trump won in 2016 than on populous Philadelphia and its suburbs, which saw much more action last time.

But Jill Biden has roots in Southeastern Pennsylvania, so today we’re breaking form a little bit to tell you five things you might not know about the potential future First Lady, who sat down with Julia for an interview. Joe Biden will be in Philly for a town hall — with Trump holding a dueling town hall in Florida — tomorrow night, as the home stretch is breaking into the final sprint.

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— Julia Terruso, Andrew Seidman (@JuliaTerruso, @AndrewSeidman,

Getting to know Jill Biden

She’s from the Philly suburbs

We hear a lot about Joe Biden’s Scranton roots, but Jill Biden also grew up in the politically pivotal Keystone State. After a few years in Hammonton, in South Jersey, her family moved to Willow Grove, in Montgomery County.

When Joe is campaigning in Pennsylvania (which is a lot), Jill often introduces herself as a Philly girl. Last weekend in Montgomery County, U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, who grew up in Abington, said: “Being a Philly girl I think there really is something in our DNA. We believe in the founding of our nation.”

She got her start in education at Philly-area schools

Biden, who wants to be the first First Lady to continue working outside of the White House, has degrees from West Chester University, Villanova University, and the University of Delaware. She taught all eight years while she was Second Lady and worked through the beginning of this campaign, before taking off to stump full time. “I think the beauty of the job is you can make it whatever you want it to be,” she said of being First Lady.

Her most viral campaign moments have come when she’s protecting Joe

In March at a campaign rally, Biden made headlines when she straight-armed a charging protester to protect her husband. In these pandemic days, she can be seen yanking Joe Biden a few feet back from reporters when she thinks they’re too close for COVID-comfort. She traces that protective instinct back to childhood. When a bully was throwing worms at her younger sister, Jill went over to his house and punched him in the face.

She’s a fan of the Flyers and Wawa — but knows how to speak Western Pennsylvanian

On Biden’s last visit to Johnstown she told the crowd that while they may disagree on sports teams (Eagles vs. Steelers) and convenience stores (Wawa vs. Sheetz), they can all “root for the Patriots to lose.”

“I’ve gotten used to it,” she said of politics. “It is my life now.”

Read Julia’s full profile: Jill Biden’s path from ‘rebellious’ Philly kid to potential First Lady

Answering your questions about voting

Will mail ballot drop boxes be guarded? How will ballots be protected?

This varies a bit by county and drop box. As of right now, counties are considering a variety of methods, such as 24-hour video surveillance or placing drop boxes inside staffed offices. Drop boxes are also designed to resist tampering and mishap: An SUV slammed into a drop box in Washington state last year, running over it and getting stuck on top. But there was no real damage to the box and it was reinstalled the next day.

If I hand over my ballot to vote in person, how do I know my vote has been recorded?

If you hand over your ballot, you’ll vote using the same voting machines as everyone else who votes in person. So your vote will be counted because it’s with all the rest of the ballots.

If you didn’t have your ballot and had to use a provisional ballot, you can look up your provisional ballot number on the state’s website after the election to see whether it was counted.

Read more: Everything you need to know about voting, by mail or in person

— Jonathan Lai (@Elaijuh)

What we’re paying attention to

Overheard on the campaign trail

“Suburban women, will you please like me?”

— Trump at a campaign rally last night in Johnstown

Other resources

  1. Check your Pennsylvania voter registration []

  2. Everything you need to know about voting by mail and in person

  3. Upcoming candidate stops in Pennsylvania:

  4. Joe Biden in Philadelphia on Thursday for ABC Town Hall

  5. Mike Pence in Reading on Saturday for campaign rally