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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Registering to Vote
Who can register to vote?
You can register to vote if you’re:
- A United States citizen at least 30 days before the next election.
- A resident of Pennsylvania and your election district for at least 30 days before the next election.
- At least 18 years of age on the day of the next election.
When is the deadline to register to vote in the 2021 primary election?
May 3, 2021, is the last day to register to vote or update your voter registration before the May 18, 2021, 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.
What happens after I submit the online voter registration application?
After your online voter registration application is approved, your county election office will mail a voter registration card to your residence.
Am I registered to vote?
Check your registration status using your name, your PennDOT Driver’s License, or PennDOT ID.
How do I update my voter registration?
Update your voter registration if you’ve:
- Move or change your address.
- Change your name.
- Change your political party.
Update your registration at Register.VotesPA.com.
Learn more about updating our voter registration online, by mail, or in person.
Voting by Mail Ballot
What is a mail ballot?
Mail ballots allow you to vote from the comfort of your home or in-person at your county board of election’s office or other designated location before Election Day. Any voter can choose to vote by mail ballot in the upcoming election using either an absentee or mail-in ballot.
Both absentee ballots and mail-in ballots are considered mail ballots. The main difference between the two mail ballots is:
- Absentee ballot: you need to provide a valid reason to vote by mail ballot.
- Mail-in ballot: you don’t need to provide a valid reason. You can simply choose to vote by mail ballot.
Both absentee and mail-in ballots are equally safe and secure ways to cast your vote.
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.
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 board of election’s office or other designated location. However, unlike an absentee ballot, you may simply request a mail-in ballot without providing a reason.
Who may apply for a mail ballot?
Any voter can choose to vote by mail ballot an election using either an absentee or mail-in ballot.
Registered Pennsylvania 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.
Unlike an absentee ballot, any registered Pennsylvania voter has the freedom to choose vote by mail-in ballot in an election without providing a reason.
How do I apply for a mail ballot?
The deadline to sign up to vote by mail ballot in the 2021 primary election is May 11, 2021, at 5 p.m.
Registered voters can apply to vote by absentee or mail-in ballot in an election with a valid PA driver’s license or photo I.D. from the PA Department of Transportation (PennDot).
Applying by Mail
Download an absentee or mail-in ballot application form at votespa.com/mailballot.
Print, complete, sign, and deliver or mail the application to your county board of election’s office or other designated location.
Voters may apply in-person at their county board of election’s office or other designated location. Once your county’s ballot is finalized and available, you may request and promptly receive your mail ballot. Find a county election office near you.
How do I complete my mail ballot?
Once you receive your absentee or mail-in ballot:
- Mark your ballot.
- Place your ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope labeled “official ballot.” Note: Your ballot will not be counted if it is not in the secrecy envelope.
- Put the sealed inner secrecy envelope into the pre-addressed outer return envelope where the voter must sign and seal it. Note: Be sure to sign the declaration, or your ballot may not count.
- Return your ballot to your county board of election’s office or other designated location.
How do I return my voted mail ballot?
Once you mark, seal, and sign your absentee or mail-in ballot, you can return it by:
- Hand-deliver your mail ballot to your county board of election’s office or other designated location.
- Drop it off at a designated county board of election drop box location.
Remember: you must deliver your ballot yourself, and you cannot have someone else deliver your voted ballot for you.
When is the deadline to return my voted mail ballot in the 2021 primary election?
Your voted ballot must be returned by 8:00 p.m. on May 18, 2021.
How can I track the progress of my mail ballot?
From when your county receives your mail ballot request to when they receive your voted ballot, you can track the progress of your absentee or mail-in ballot at VotesPA.com/MailBallotStatus.
Where can I find more information about mail ballot voting?
To learn more about voting by absentee or mail-in ballot visit VotesPA.com/MailBallot.
If you are a member of the military or an overseas civilian voter, visit Information for Military and Overseas Voters.
If you are in an emergency situation, such as an unexpected illness or disability that prevented you from submitting your mail ballot application on time, you can request an Emergency Absentee Ballot.
Annual Mail-in Voter List
Voters have the option to request to be added to the Annual Mail-in Voter 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.
How can I sign up?
You can sign up during the mail ballot application process.
Early In-person Voting
Through Act 77, Pennsylvania voters may vote early and in person in an an election using a mail ballot at their county election office or other designated location.
Once your county’s ballot is finalized and available, you may request, fill out, and return a mail ballot in-person at your county election office or other designated location.
How does early in-person voting work?
If you would like to vote early in-person during an election, check your county’s website or call your county to see if ballots are finalized and printed.
Make sure you have proof of identification with you, such as a PennDOT ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Go to your county election office or other designated location.
- Fill out a mail ballot request form, and wait for it to be verified.
- Mark your ballot following the instructions provided.
- Seal your marked ballot into the white inner secrecy envelope labeled “official ballot.” Your ballot MUST be in the secrecy envelope to be counted.
- Seal the white inner secrecy envelope inside the pre-addressed outer return envelope where you must sign. Your ballot MUST be in both envelopes to be counted.
- Complete and sign the back of the outer return envelope. Be sure to sign the declaration, or your ballot may not count.
- Hand it back to your county election office for processing.
- You are done.
Remember: If you return your voted mail-in or absentee ballot, you cannot then vote at your polling place on election day.
How do I track my mail ballot progress after returning it?
Track the progress of your mail ballot at votesPA.com/MailBallotStatus.
Where can I learn more about early voting?
Learn more about early in-person voting at VotesPA.com/EarlyVoting.
Voting at a Polling Place
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 I signed up to vote by mail ballot but now choose to vote at a polling place?
To vote at your polling place, you will need to bring both your mail-in or absentee ballot AND the outer return envelope to your polling place. Learn more about voting at your polling place.
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 that 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. Find the address and telephone number for your county election office.
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 mail 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 machine: 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.
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: