How to Vote in the PA Primary Election

Everything you need to know about voting in Pennsylvania before the primary election on May 18

The next election in Pennsylvania is the primary on May 18, 2021, but early voting begins on March 29, 2021. 

We put together this handy voter guide so you can step into the voting booth (or fill out a mail-in ballot) ready to go.

Keep reading to find easy tips on how to register to vote and check your registration status, apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot and where to find your polling place if you’re voting in person on Election Day.

Keep in mind that May 3, 2021 is the last day to register to vote or update your voter registration for the May 18 primary. The deadline to register to vote by mail is May 11, 2021.

Find our guide on how to vote in Pennsylvania below, or skip right to a specific section to learn…

How to register to vote and check your registration status

A poll worker wearing shades in Philadelphia gets ready to help voters on Election Day
Photo courtesy @phila2ndward / Instagram

You can vote if you are a citizen of the United States for at least one month before the election on May 18, 2021, a resident of Philadelphia and your election district for at least 30 days before Election Day, and at least 18 years of age on or before the day of election.

Register to vote online here by May 3, 2021.

You can also register by mail. Download and print this application, then fill it out, sign it and mail it to your county board of elections, which you can find here.

In Philadelphia, that address is:
The Philadelphia County Board of Elections
520 N. Columbus Boulevard, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19123

No printer? Voter registration applications are also available at the U.S. Post Office, Philadelphia public libraries and, funny enough, state liquor store.

Want to check your registration status? The process is simple. Go to this site and enter one of three criteria: your name, driver’s license number or PennDOT ID.

How to vote by mail

Two women drop their ballots in the mailbox before Election Day 2020
Photo by League of Women Voters of California LWVC from USA, CC BY 2.0, / Wikimedia Commons

In Pennsylvania, you can begin voting 50 days before Election Day via mail-in ballot or at a satellite election office (those locations are TBD). That means you can cast your ballot as early as March 29, 2021.

If you would like to request a mail-in ballot, you need to do it by May 11, 2021. You can do that in a variety of ways:

  1. Apply for a mail-in ballot online with a valid PA driver’s license or photo I.D. from (PennDOT).
  2. Apply for a mail-in ballot by mail and send it to your county elections office.
  3. You can also apply in person at your county elections office.

If your application is accepted, you will receive a mail-in ballot with instructions from your county election office.

If you signed up to be on the annual mail-in voter list, you should be receiving a renewal application as early as mid-February.

This page answers any other questions you may have.

Find Your Polling Place and More

voting vote polling stations election
Photo by Sabina Louise Pierce

Polling places are subject to change—especially during pandemic times—so make sure you know where to go if you’re planning to vote in person on May 18.

  1. Find your polling place here. This is the place you’ll vote on Election Day.
  2. Know your rights and responsibilities as a voter.

What to expect on Election Day

Voters in Philadelphia line up outside a satellite election office in South Philly
Photo by Josh Middleton

Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania is officially May 18, 2021, but brand new election laws in Pennsylvania give local voters more options than ever to cast their ballots—whether it’s in person, by mail or at a satellite polling location conveniently located throughout the city (details about those are forthcoming).

If you’re voting in person, polls will be open from 7am to 8pm on May 18. Remember that you can get in line to vote before 7am, and you can vote as long as you were in line before 8pm—even if you don’t get into the actual voting booth until later. Also remember: Polling places change, so make sure you know where to go by checking here.

Good luck getting out the vote, Pennsylvania!

Header photo by Phil Roeder / Flickr