Pennsylvania

Upcoming Elections

Oct. 19, 2020 – Voter Registration Deadline

October 19 at 11:59 p.m. ET: Deadline to register to vote or update voter registration – registration must actually be received by the county election office on this date.

For more information, visit here.

Oct. 27, 2020 – Deadline to apply for Absentee or Mail-In Ballot

October 27 at 5:00 p.m. ET: Deadline to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot.  Your application must be received by your county election office by this time, regardless of whether it was postmarked before this date.

For more information, visit here.

Nov. 3, 2020 – Deadline for In-Person Return of Absentee or Mail-In Ballot

November 3 at by 8:00 p.m. ET: Deadline for in-person return of absentee or mail-in ballots, and deadline for absentee or mail-in ballots to be postmarked.

For more information, visit here.

Nov. 6, 2020 – Deadline for receipt of Absentee or Mail-In Ballots to County Election Office

Deadline for receipt of absentee or mail-in ballots by mail to the county election office – again, these must also be postmarked by November 3 at by 8:00 p.m. ET).

For more information, visit here.

Voting in Pennsylvania

When You Can Vote In-Person

Election Day

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.  You can line up before 7:00 a.m., which voters often do to cast an early vote, and if you are in line by 8:00 p.m. you will be allowed to vote, and are entitled to do so.

Where You Can Vote

At Your Polling Place: Visit the polling place page on the Pennsylvania Voter Information website.

By Mail:  Registered Pennsylvania voters do not need a reason to vote by mail, if they do not want to vote in-person.  However, they will not automatically be sent a mail-in ballot; they must apply for one by October 27, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. ET.  

Registering to Vote

Registration Deadlines: Voters must register 15 days prior to Election Day.  The deadline for the November 3, 2020 General Election is Monday, October 19.  If a voter decides to send their registration in by mail, the application must have been actually received, accepted and processed by their county election office by that registration deadline.

Except for a person who was discharged or separated from service in the Armed Forces and arrived home too late to register, Pennsylvania does not have same day registration.

How to Check Your Registration

Visit the Pennsylvania voter registration page or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility

In order to register in Pennsylvania, a voter must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States at least 30 days before the election;
  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania, your county, and your election district for at least 30 days before the election;
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before election day.

Additionally, a voter cannot register to vote in Pennsylvania if:

  • They are currently confined in a penal institution, halfway house, or other correctional facility for conviction of a felony and will not be released from confinement before the next election; 
  • Have been convicted within the past four years for having violated the Pennsylvania Election Code; and
  • Have been declared mentally incompetent by a court.  

How to Register: Pennsylvania residents may register online, in-person, or by mail.

 Online

In order to register to vote online, it is best to have either a Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDot ID, as without either, the voter may not be able to complete the application entirely online.  Voters can also register using the last 4 digits of their Social Security number and uploading a digital image of their signature online.  Applicants can apply to register on the registration page of the Pennsylvania Voter Information Website. Note that the voter’s registration card will be sent to the address that they enter on that registration form.  Additionally, the address on your driver’s license must match the address of your voter registration. 

In-Person

Voters may register to vote in-person at their county’s board of voter registration, whose location can be found at their county’s contact information page. 

By Mail

In order to register by mail, voters must obtain a registration form by:

  • Downloading and printing a mail-in form from the Pennsylvania Voter Information Website. Mail-in applications must be postmarked by the deadline.
  • Sending the signed form to their county of board of voter registration at the mailing address found on your county’s contact information page.
Voting Early & by Mail-In or Absentee Ballot

If You Want to Vote Early

Registered Pennsylvania voters can apply to vote by mail-in ballot or by absentee ballot here

Importantly, voters who receive a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot and return their voted ballots by the deadline may not vote at their polling place on election day.  If a voter has requested a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot but has not voted it and sent it in yet, they can only vote in-person at their polling place if they surrender their mail-in or absentee ballot and the outer return envelope it was sent with to the judge of elections to be voided first.  

Who Can Vote by Mail-In Ballot

Any registered Pennsylvania voter that is not voting absentee can vote by mail-in ballot. The voter does not need to provide a reason or excuse in order to vote by mail.

Who Can Vote by Absentee Ballot

Registered voters who expect to be away from their home in Pennsylvania for the entire window of time that polling places are open on election day can vote by absentee ballot.  The following people may vote by absentee ballot if they are registered to vote:

  • A person with an illness or physical disability who is unable to go to the polling place or to operate a voting machine and obtain assistance by distinct and audible statement. 
  • A person who will not go to a polling place on election day because of the observance of a religious holiday.
  • A spouse or dependent residing with or accompanying a person in the military service of the United States. 
  • A member of the Merchant Marine and their spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying them.
  • A member of a religious or welfare group attached to and serving with the armed forces and their spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying them.
  • A spouse or dependent accompanying a person employed by the state of Pennsylvania or the federal government, whose duties, occupation or business on election day require them to be away from Pennsylvania or their municipality of residence.
  • An individual, and their spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying them, with duties, occupation or business (including leaves of absence for teaching, vacations and sabbatical leaves) away from their official residence on election day.
  • A county employee who expects that their election day duties relating to the conduct of the election will prevent them from voting. 

Application Information for Mail-In or Absentee Ballots

This is the link to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot online.

Online Application:  To apply for either a mail-in or absentee ballot online, registered voters must provide their PA Driver’s License number or PennDOT ID number.  Voters who do not have a PA Driver’s License or PennDOT ID number can complete a paper absentee ballot application, which allows them to provide the last four digits of their social security number instead.  Voters who do not have any of the above may enclose a photocopy of an acceptable ID.

In-Person Application: A voter may also apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot in person at the voter’s county election office or at a satellite election office if the county has designated satellite offices.  At that time, a voter may apply for a mail in or absentee ballot, have the application approved, be presented with the appropriate mail in or absentee voter packet. If the voter chooses, they can and mark the ballot, insert it in the secrecy envelope, insert the secrecy envelope the outer return envelope.

Application by Mail:  If you want to submit your application by mail,  you can download an application for a mail in or absentee ballot here.  

Spanish language here.

Completing a Mail-In or Absentee Ballot

Once a voter receives and completes their mail-in or absentee ballot, they must place it in the white inner secrecy envelope labeled “official ballot” before submitting it.  The voter must then put the inner secrecy envelope into the pre-addressed outer return envelope where they must sign and seal it.

Voters who do not put their ballots in the inner secrecy envelope or who do not sign the declaration will not have their vote counted.

Submission & Deadlines 

In order to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot, the voter must apply online, by mail or in-person to request a ballot.  

Both mail-in and absentee ballot applications for the November 3, 2020, general election must be received by the voter’s county election office or other designated location by 5:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. 

A voter can return their mail-in or absentee ballot by mailing it to the voter’s county board of elections, by dropping it off in person at the board of election’s office, or by returning it to a certified ballot drop box or satellite elections office.  The county board of elections must receive a voted mail-in or absentee ballot by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day in order for it to be counted, unless it has been mailed, in which case the ballot must be postmarked by 8:00 pm on Election Day and received by 5:00 pm on Nov. 6.

Generally, you must deliver your ballot yourself.  If you are physically unable to deliver your ballot yourself, you may fill out a “Certification of Designated Agent” form, which allows the voter to designate a representative, in writing, to deliver the ballot to and/or from the voter.   This form is available here

If the voter is sending the completed mail-in or absentee ballot by mail, it must be postmarked by 8:00 p.m. ET on November 3, 2020.  The county board of elections must receive a voted mail-in or absentee ballot by 5:00 p.m. ET on November 6, 2020 in order for it to be counted.

Identification Requirements

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

Pennsylvania voters are usually not required to show identification at the polling place.  Voters must show identification only if they are voting for the first time or if they have not previously voted in their current election district.  Any of the following forms of photo ID are acceptable:

  • Pennsylvania driver’s license; 
  • PennDOT ID card;
  • ID issued by any Pennsylvania agency;
  • ID issued by the U.S. Government;
  • U.S. Passport;
  • U.S. Armed Forces ID;
  • Student ID; or
  • Employee ID.

If voters do not have photo ID, they can also present a document that includes their name and address.  These include: 

  • Registration confirmation issued by the County Voter Registration Office; 
  • Current utility bill;
  • Current bank statement;
  • Current paycheck; 
  • Government check;
  • Non-photo ID issued by Pennsylvania;
  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government; or
  • Firearm permit

If a first-time voter does not have an acceptable form of ID with them at the polling location, they can vote a provisional ballot. The voter must present a form of ID to the county election office within 6 days of the election for the ballot to be counted.  You may bring the ID or send it via email or fax.

If You Have Moved Within Your State

If you moved within the state less than 30 days before an election you must vote at your former residence’s polling location.  When you arrive to vote, tell the local Election Official of your change of address so that you can vote correctly at your new address in the future.

If you moved at least 30 days before an election you must change your voter registration address by submitting a new voter registration form—either online or by mail. Simply select the option for “Change of Address.”  Note that in order to vote at your new precinct’s polling place, this registration form must be submitted by the voter registration deadline., which is October 19, 2020 for the General Election.  If you missed the deadline and moved within the state, you must vote at the polling place of your old residence where you are registered to vote.  

Whenever you move before an election, you may only vote once at your original polling place after you move, and when you do so, you must abide by special procedures, called “fail-safe voting.”  These procedures include:

  1. Inform the Election Officials at the polling place that you have moved and would like to change your registration by filling out an affirmation that states your new address;
  2. You will be permitted to vote at the old polling place based on your previous residence, but the county will update its records after the election to reflect your new address;
  3. You will receive a new voter certification card in the mail that will show your new address and polling place; and
  4. You will not be able to vote again at your old polling place.
If You are in the Military or are an Overseas Voter

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Overseas and military voters (and their dependents) who will be absent from their voting residence on Election Day may register and request an absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).  For step-by-step assistance and forms, visit the Pennsylvania page of the Federal Voting Assistance Program website.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters may request an absentee ballot by completing the Federal Post Card Application. This application can be filled out online at the Pennsylvania page of the Federal Voting Assistance Program website or an application can be downloaded from the website and brought to the voter’s local election office. 

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters who do not receive their regular ballots on time.  Military voters can use this FWAB whether they are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses), provided that they are away from their voting residence for service-related activities.  To request a FWAB, complete the form online at the Pennsylvania page of the Federal Voting Assistance Program website, or a form can be downloaded from the website and brought to the voter’s local election office.

Deadlines

  • A Federal Post Card Application for an absentee ballot for the General Election must be received by October 19, 2020.
  • A FWAB ballot for the General Election must be signed by November 2, 2020 and received by 5:00 p.m. ET on the 7th day after the election, November 10, 2020.
If You Have a Felony Convicion

You are eligible to register to vote or vote UNLESS you: 

  • Are currently confined in a penal institution for conviction of a felony (even if you are also incarcerated for one or more misdemeanor offenses) and will not be released from confinement before the next election; 
  • Are in a community confinement facility or other alternative correctional facility for conviction of a felony and will not be released before the date of the next election; or,
  • Were convicted of violating any provision of the Pennsylvania Election Code within the last four years. 

If you do not fall into one of these categories, and if you were previously registered to vote, you should confirm that you are still registered at the correct address, and re-register if necessary before the registration deadline.  If you were not previously registered to vote, register to vote before the registration deadline. For more information, visit here

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