Voting in Pennsylvania
Voting in Pennsylvania
Governor Wolf’s administration is making exercising your right to vote easier. This guide will connect you with Pennsylvania’s voting and election services.
Registering to Vote
How do I register to vote online?
To register online for the next primary, special, municipal or general election visit register.votesPA.com . You can access this application with a computer or a smartphone with connection to the internet.
When is the deadline to register to vote in the May 2018 primary election?
The last day to register before the 2018 primary election was 4/16/2018. Any application submitted after 4/16/2018 will be held and processed the day after the 2018 primary 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?
You may check your registration status at votesPA.com/status .
Who can vote an absentee ballot?
- Voters who are serving in the armed forces, Merchant Marine, or who are outside the United States because of business, and their accompanying spouses and dependents.
- Voters who are absent from their municipality during the time the polls are open because of work.
- Voters who cannot attend their polling place because of illness or disability or veterans who are bedridden or hospitalized.
- Voters who are county employees and cannot vote at the polling place because of their duties relating to the conduct of the election.
- Voters who cannot attend because of observance of a religious holiday.
- Voters and their accompanying spouses who are absent due to a leave of absence or sabbatical leave.
- Voters who are absent because they are on vacation.
- Voters who are college students and are attending school away from home.
How can I vote by absentee ballot?
Download an absentee ballot application form at votespa.com/absentee . Print, complete, sign, and deliver or mail the application to your county election office. The address and telephone number for your county election office may be found at votespa.com/county .
You can also request an absentee ballot by:
- Sending a letter or other signed document (such as the county’s official application for requesting an absentee ballot ) to the County Board of Elections in the county in which you are registered.
- Applying in person.
- Completing any form supplied by the federal government.
- Completing any official County Board of Elections form that is addressed to the Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth or County Board of Elections of the county in which you reside.
When is the deadline to request an absentee ballot?
The County Board of Elections must receive your application for absentee ballot no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election.
Because of late delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of State recommends that voters submit their absentee ballot applications at least two weeks before the election.
There are exceptions for emergencies if you become ill or physically disabled and are not able to request an absentee ballot by the deadline.
When is the deadline to submit an absentee ballot?
Your County Board of Elections must receive your voted absentee ballot by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the election.
If you must submit your application for an absentee ballot on the Tuesday before the election, Department of State recommends that you return your voted absentee ballot in person.
In emergency situations (such as an unexpected illness or disability), you can submit an Emergency Application for Absentee Ballot, which must be received by your County Board of Elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.
In an emergency situation that occurs after 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day, you can submit an Emergency Application for Absentee Ballot to your County Court.
Where can I find more information on requesting an absentee ballot?
For more information visit votespa.com/absentee .
At the Polls
How do I find my polling place?
- Your polling place location is printed on your voter registration card.
- Call your county election office.
- 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 poll should call the County Board of Elections to determine if you are registered. If you are, you should be able to vote normally.
What if I’m in the wrong precinct?
If you are registered but in the wrong precinct, you should go to the correct precinct.
What if the County Board of Elections cannot find my name?
If you believe you were 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 should be provided to voters who believe they are registered voters but whose names are not on the rolls, or first-time voters who do not provide ID at the polls on Election Day.
Can my right to vote be challenged?
Yes, but only for certain reasons and by certain people. A poll worker, poll watcher, or other voter may only challenge a voter on the grounds that the voter does not live in the precinct or the voter is not the person the voter says he or she is.
The voter may still vote normally by signing a challenge affidavit and producing a witness to vouch for him or her (have a witness come to the polling location with you).
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 also have the right to refuse assistance.
Who can be inside the polling place?
Only precinct election officials, clerks, machine inspectors, watchers, no more than 10 persons in the process of voting, persons lawfully giving assistance to voters, and police officers in the act of voting or who have been called to the polling place to preserve the peace, are allowed inside or within 10 feet of the polling place while voting is in progress. Everyone else, including individuals handing out campaign literature, must remain at least 10 feet away.
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. The address and telephone number for your county election office may be found at votespa.com/county .
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 .
Voting & Elections and the Wolf Administration
The Wolf Administration has made it a priority to maximize efficiency, modernize state government operations, and provide the highest quality services to Pennsylvanians — including services related to voting and elections.
On August 27, 2015, Pennsylvania became the 23rd state to offer online voter registration (OVR). Built by the Pennsylvania Department of State, the award-winning system allows eligible citizens to more easily register to vote and make updates to their voter record, such as a change of name, address, or party affiliation. Since it was launched, Pennsylvania’s OVR recorded nearly 900,000 total applications before the October 11, 2016 deadline.
To provide voters a higher level of transparency and efficiency during elections, the Wolf Administration and the Department of State also launched a revamped election-results website. The redesigned site allows users to view returns live as they are submitted to the Department of State.
More recently, the Wolf Administration also made the votesPA website and poll search mobile friendly and announced that Pennsylvanians can now access online voter services via text message.