Voting in Pennsylvania
Voting in Pennsylvania
Learn how to exercise your right to vote. This guide will help connect you with Pennsylvania’s voting and election services.
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Recent Act 77 Voting Reforms
Act 77 was signed into law on October 31, 2019. The act paved the way for Pennsylvanians to have a more convenient and secure voting experience, including:
- Introducing mail-in voting in Pennsylvania.
- Extending the amount of time you have to register to vote and return your absentee or mail-in ballot.
- Establishing an annual ballot request list.
- Removing straight-party voting.
- Prohibiting the use of stickers or paste-on labels for write-in candidates.
When will Act 77 reforms take effect?
Act 77 reforms will take effect starting with the 2020 primary election on April 28.
Special elections held before April 28, 2020, are not affected by Act 77. This means:
- The voter registration deadline is 30 days before the special election date.
- Mail-in ballots are NOT available for special elections that take place before April 28, 2020.
- Voters can apply for an absentee ballot by completing the paper application form and submitting it to your county election office .
If you are voting in a special election before April 28, 2020, please visit the DOS Special Elections webpage .
Registering to Vote
When is the deadline to register to vote in the April 2020 primary election?
April 13, 2020, is the last day to register before the April 28, 2020, primary election.
If you’re mailing a signed voter registration application, it must be received by your county election office 15 days before an election. Applications postmarked by the deadline are no longer accepted.
When is the deadline to register to vote for a special election that takes place before the April 2020 primary election?
The voter registration deadlines for special elections taking place before the April 28, 2020 primary are not impacted by Act 77 voting reforms . The deadline to register to vote for those special elections is 30 days before the election.
What happens after I submit the online voter registration application?
Once your online voter registration application is approved, your county election office will mail a voter registration card to your residence.
How do I check my voter registration status?
Check your registration status using your name, your PennDOT Driver’s License, or PennDOT ID.
How do I update my voter registration?
You can update your voter registration if you:
- Move or change your address
- Change your name
- Change your political party
Learn how to update our voter registration online, by mail, or in person .
Voting by Mail-In Ballot
What is a mail-in ballot?
Recent voting reforms established a new convenient way for Pennsylvanians to vote : mail-in ballots.
Similar to an absentee ballot, you may apply to receive a mail-in ballot in the mail to complete, and return to your county election office . However, unlike an absentee ballot, you may simply request a mail-in ballot without providing a reason. Mail-in ballots will be available starting with the 2020 primary election on April 28.
Who may apply for a mail-in ballot?
Registered voters can apply to vote via mail-in ballot for the April 2020 primary election .
Military and overseas voters should visit the information for military and overseas voters web page for information on how to obtain a ballot.
How do I apply for a mail-in ballot?
Registered voters can apply to vote via mail-in ballot for the April 2020 primary election with a valid PA driver’s license or photo I.D. from the PA Department of Transportation (PennDot).
Beginning 50 days before an election, voters can stop by a county election office to apply in person and have your ballot promptly presented to you. Find a county election office near you .
What is the deadline to apply?
From the April 28, 2020 primary election forward, the deadline for your county to receive your application for a mail-in ballot is before 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election.
How do I fill out and submit a mail-in ballot?
After you receive your mail-in ballot:
- Fill out your mail-in ballot.
- Place your ballot in the secrecy envelope and then put the sealed secrecy envelope into the official envelope. Note: Be sure to sign the form, or your ballot may not count.
- Mail or hand-deliver your completed absentee ballot to your county election office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day for it to be counted.
Voting by Absentee Ballot
What’s an absentee ballot?
If you plan to be out of the municipality on Election Day or if you have a disability or illness, you can apply to vote by an absentee ballot.
You cast the ballot by returning it to your county’s election office.
Who can vote an absentee ballot?
Registered voters who may vote absentee include:
- College Students
- People whose work or vacation take them away from the Municipality where they live
- Those with a physical disability or Illness that Prevents them from going to the polling place
- Members of the military
- People who may have a conflict due to the celebration of a religious holiday
Learn more about the requirements for voting by absentee ballot .
How can I apply for an absentee ballot?
Registered voters can apply for an absentee ballot online with a valid PA driver’s license or photo I.D. from the PA Department of Transportation (PennDot).
Stop by your county election office to apply in person. Find a county election office near you .
If you are a member of the military, an overseas voter, or in need of an emergency absentee ballot, visit Voting by Absentee Ballot to learn about other ways to request an absentee ballot .
When is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot?
Your county election office must receive your application for absentee ballot no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election.
If you are in an emergency situation, such as an unexpected illness or disability that prevented you from submitting your absentee application on time, were unable to apply for an absentee ballot due to business or work, or became ill or physically disabled that prevented you from going to your polling place on election day, you can submit an emergency application for an absentee ballot .
How do I fill out and submit an absentee ballot?
Once you receive your absentee ballot:
- Fill out your absentee ballot.
- Place your completed ballot in the secrecy envelope and then put the sealed secrecy envelope into the official envelope. Note: Be sure to sign the form, or your ballot may not count.
- Mail or hand-deliver your completed absentee ballot to your county election office by 8:00 pm on election day.
Annual Ballot Request List
New for the April 2020 primary and beyond, you’ll have the option to request to be added to an annual ballot request list, otherwise known as a permanent voter list. If you are on this list you will receive an application to renew your absentee or mail-in ballot request each year.
After your annual application is approved, you will automatically receive ballots for all elections occurring the remainder of the year. You do not need to submit an application for each election. The county will send you an annual renewal form so you can continue receiving ballots each year.
Voting at a Polling Place
How do I find my polling place?
Your polling place location is printed on your voter registration card or you can call your county election office. You can also look it up online at votespa.com/pollingplace .
When are the polls open on Election Day?
The polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. If you are in line when the polls close, you are entitled to vote.
Do I need any identification (ID) to vote?
If you have voted at your polling location before, you do not need to bring ID to vote. Only voters who are voting for the first time in their election district need to show ID. Acceptable ID includes both photo and non-photo ID.
Acceptable IDs for first-time voters:
- Driver’s license
- U.S. passport
- Military, student, or employee ID
- Voter registration card
- Firearm permit
- Current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check
- Any ID issued by the commonwealth or federal government
Note: An ID without your photo must have your address on it.
What if my name isn't in the poll book?
The local officials at your polling place should call the county board of elections to determine if you are registered. If you are, you should be able to vote. If the county cannot find your name, but you believe you are registered and omitted from the poll book, you may vote a provisional ballot .
What is a provisional ballot?
A provisional ballot is a paper ballot which is provided to voters who believe they are registered voters but whose names do not appear in the sign-in book at the polling place. If you are a first-time voter who does not provide ID at the polls on Election Day, you will be offered a provisional ballot.
Learn more about voting with a provisional ballot .
Can someone assist me at the polls?
You have the right to assistance if you cannot read or write; cannot read the names on the ballots; have difficulty understanding English; or are blind, disabled, or unable to operate the voting machine.
You may request help from a relative, friend, neighbor, or another voter. You do not need to be designated in the poll book district register as “assistance permitted” to receive this assistance. If you want assistance, you must sign an Assistance Declaration , unless the poll book already indicates “assistance permitted.” You have the right to refuse assistance.
Who can be inside the polling place?
Only the following individuals are allowed inside or within 10 feet of the entrance to the polling place while voting is in progress:
- precinct election officials,
- polling place clerks
- machine inspectors
- approved poll watchers,
- no more than 10 persons in the process of voting,
- approved persons assisting voters, and
- police officers in the act of voting or who have been called to the polling place to preserve the peace.
Everyone else, including individuals handing out campaign literature, must remain at least 10 feet away from the entrance to the polling place.
What happens if I am intimidated at the polls?
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for any person or corporation through intimidation or coercion to induce or compel a person to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate or on a particular political issue. If you have experienced intimidation at the polls, you should call your District Attorney’s Office and notify your County Board of Elections . You can also submit a complaint to the Department of State via an online web form or by calling 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).
Report Election Complaints
Fair and honest elections are the foundations of our Republic, and everyone must take responsibility for helping to ensure the integrity of the process.
We encourage voters who have any issues at the polls or may be aware of election fraud or irregularities in Pennsylvania to report them via the Department of State’s election complaint form or by calling 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).
You can also contact your county election office. The address and telephone number for your county election office may be found at votespa.com/county .
Returns and Statistics
Real-time Election Returns
The Pennsylvania Department of State provides Pennsylvanians an online portal for viewing election returns in real-time as reports are received from the Commonwealth’s 67 counties on Election Day. The portal also allows users to customize searches, receive timely updates, and view results on mobile devices, as well as provides direct links to each county’s election returns website.
Voter and Election Statistics
The Department of State publishes current voting statistics and related archive data .
The Wolf Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of State have taken several steps to further strengthen election security and the integrity of your vote.
These steps include additional measures to protect voter registration data and voting systems. Pennsylvania also collaborates with federal and state law enforcement partners to stay one step ahead of potential threats.
Learn more about the measures the commonwealth is taking to protect your vote .
Voting & Elections and the Wolf Administration
The Wolf Administration has made it a priority to maximize efficiency, increase data security, modernize state government operations, and provide the highest quality services to Pennsylvanians — including services related to voting and elections.
Building on this effort, Governor Wolf signed Act 77 of 2019 into law on October 31, 2019. The act is a historic election reform bill that makes the most significant improvements to Pennsylvania’s elections in more than 80 years.
Since Governor Wolf took office, Pennsylvania has made strides in making elections more convenient and more secure for voters:
- Launching online voter registration : a system that allows eligible citizens to more easily register to vote and make updates to their voter records, such as a change of name, address, or party affiliation. Since its launch on August 27, 2015, more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have used the online service.
- Launching an online absentee ballot application : an application that allows registered voters to apply for an absentee ballot online. Nearly 23,300 voters submitted their absentee applications during the 2019 general election.
- Upgrading voting machines : all 67 Pennsylvania counties have taken official action toward acquiring new voting systems with advanced security and a paper trail. Through Act 77, counties will be reimbursed for up to 60 percent of their costs for the new voting systems.
Keep up with the Governor’s efforts to modernization voting in Pennsylvania.