Election Day is six weeks away, and deadlines to participate in the May 17 primary are approaching.
Candidates for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, and legislative seats are on the ballot. Voters will choose their party’s nominee in crowded races that could decide which political party controls the upper chamber in Washington D.C. and determine what kind of legislation becomes law in Pennsylvania.
Here’s what you need to know before casting your vote:
Am I eligible to vote?
To vote in Pennsylvania, an individual must be at least 18-years-old and live in the commonwealth.
In Pennsylvania, you can only vote for candidates with the same affiliation during primary elections. This means that if you’re a registered Republican, you can only vote in the Republican primary — not the Democratic contest.
How do I register to vote?
There are four ways to register to vote — online, by U.S. mail, in-person, or at a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation photo or driver’s license center.
To register online, visit vote.pa.gov, where you’ll be asked to complete a registration application form. Before you begin, make sure to have your driver’s license or PennDOT ID card on hand. If you don’t have one, you may upload a signature or print and sign the form.
The Pennsylvania Voter Registration Application can be downloaded online to register by mail. Print the form, fill it out, sign it, and send it to your county voter registration office.
Voter registration can also be completed in person at your county voter registration office or at some government agencies, such as a PennDOT Photo License and Driver’s License Center.
The voter application can also be completed at many state government offices, including:
- State offices that provide public assistance and services to people with disabilities
- Armed forces recruitment centers
- County Clerk of Orphans’ Court offices, including each Marriage License Bureau
- Area agencies on aging
- Centers for independent living
- County mental health offices
- Student disability services offices of the State System of Higher Education
- Offices of special education ADA complementary paratransit offices
- Any agency using the Compass application
Once you submit your application, it will be sent to your local voter registration office for review and processing.
When is the deadline to register to vote?
The last day to register to vote before the primary election is May 2.
How do I check or update my voter registration?
To check your voter registration, use the voter registration status form at pavoterservices.pa.gov/pages/voterregistrationstatus.aspx. You may also contact your local elections office, or call 1-877-VOTESPA.
If you are registered to vote, you don’t have to register again in Pennsylvania unless you move or change your address, change your name, or want to change your party affiliation.
To make changes, fill out the voter registration application form and check the correct box at the top of the form.
What is the difference between an absentee and a mail-in ballot?
In Pennsylvania, there are two ballot options to vote by mail — mail-in or absentee ballot.
Any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot without a reason.
Absentee ballots are available to those who will be out of their local municipality on Election Day or those who have a disability or illness that prevents them from voting in person.
How to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot?
Despite legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot law, voters may still apply for a mail-in ballot ahead of the primary election.
When is the deadline to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot?
All applications must be received by your county elections board by 5 p.m. on May 10.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.