What to know so you’re registered, ready to vote in the Nov. 8 election

Because it’s a general election, all registered voters, including those registered as independent or third-party, can participate.
Capital-Star file photo.

Election Day is still about two months away, but Pennsylvania voters can already apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot — and make sure their registration is up to date ahead of Nov. 8.

Candidates for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, and state legislative seats — all House members and half of the Senate — are on the ballot this fall. Voters will influence which political party controls the upper chamber in Washington, D.C. and determine what kind of legislation becomes law in Pennsylvania.

And because it’s a general election, all registered voters, including those registered as independent or third-party, can participate.

Here’s what you need to know to make sure you’re ready to vote in the general election:

Am I eligible to vote?

To vote in Pennsylvania, an individual must be at least 18 years old and live in the state.

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. You may upload a signature or print and sign the form if you don’t have one.

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 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, your local voter registration office will review and process the request.

When is the deadline to register to vote?

The last day to register to vote before the primary election is Oct. 24.

How do I check or update my voter registration?

To check your voter registration, use the voter registration status form online. 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 by mail or in person, fill out the voter registration application form and check the correct box at the top.

Download a copy of the voter registration application here or by visiting vote.pa.gov.

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?

To apply, visit pavoterservices.pa.gov.

When is the deadline to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot?

Your county elections board must receive all applications by 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Marley Parish, Author at Penn-Capital Star

Marley Parish, Author at Penn-Capital Star

A Pennsylvania native, Marley Parish covers the Senate for the Capital-Star. She previously reported on government, education and community issues for the Centre Daily Times and has a background in writing, editing and design. A graduate of Allegheny College, Marley served as editor of the campus newspaper, where she also covered everything from student government to college sports.

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