The term “Election Day” is kind of a misnomer nowadays. Instead, we kind of have whole Election Seasons, thanks to recent voting laws that let Pennsylvanians vote up to 50 days before any election. The latest one began September 13, and ends with in-person voting during the general election on Tuesday, November 2.
Mail-in ballot should be arriving any day now, which means time is of the essence. Make sure you’ve done everything you need to do to actually be able to vote this spring—whether you want to vote by mail-in ballot or walk into a polling place—mask on!—on November 2.
You could check out our guide to how to vote in the Pennsylvania general election (that’s always a good thing to have on hand), or keep reading for a quick FAQ that should answer all the questions you’ll need to get that vote cast by November 2
Who’s running for office in Philadelphia in 2021?
We lay out everyone on the ballot in our voters’ guide to the general election, but in a nutshell: Two people are running to be your next district attorney: incumbent Larry Krasner and his Republican challenger, Chuck Peruto. The Philadelphia city controller will also be on the ballot, but there is only one person running: incumbent Rebecca Rhynhart. You’ll also be voting on a slew of judicial seats (which you can learn about here) and four ballot questions concerning the City Charter of Philadelphia—including one concerning cannabis.
There’s no president or mayor on the ballot. Why should I care to vote?
Oh, dear citizen, where to begin? There are a bevy of reasons to cast a ballot this year: You get to help choose the city’s top prosecutor, and decide who will oversee courtrooms from here to the state Supreme Court, and vote on ballot questions that can affect the future of our city.
You should also care because if you don’t, politicians won’t care about you: They may not know how you vote, but they can know if you vote—and if we want our electeds to do right by Philly, then we need to let them know we’re paying attention. Need more reasons? We’ve got them here and here (different elections, same idea).
What are the ballot questions, by the way?
We’ll be voting on four ballot measures in the 2021 general election, which you can read about in our voter guide. They all include making amendments to the Philadelphia City Charter. Should Philadelphia call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to pass recreational marijuana use? Should we establish a new city department in charge of overseeing City-owned motor vehicles and programs concerning alternative fuel initiatives? Those are two of the things we’ll be deciding on. You can delve more into all of them here.
When is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania?
October 18, 2021, is the last day to register to vote or update your voter registration (in case you need to change your address or party). If you want to vote by mail or get an absentee ballot, you must register to do that by October 26, 2021.
I voted by mail in the 2021 primary. Do I have to sign up again to receive a mail-in ballot?
No! If you voted by mail in the 2021 primary in Pennsylvania, you will automatically receive a mail-in ballot for the general election.
How do I check my voter registration status in PA?
It’s so easy: Head to this site and enter one of three criteria: your name, driver’s license number or PennDOT ID. Remember, you have to do that by October 18 for it to count in the November 2 election.
What do I do once I receive my mail-in ballot?
Do your due diligence (read: peruse our voter guide!) then get that sucker filled out and mailed in ASAP. Don’t wait till the last day or even week to do it. Mail is slow AF these days. You can find instructions on how to fill it out and seal it properly here. The best option, however, could be to drop it off at your county board of elections office, which you can find here. You can also drop off your mail-in ballot at more than a dozen drop boxes that are located around the city. Find one near you here.
I want to vote in person this year. Can I still do that?
Absolutely. You can find your polling location here. Be sure to check it out no matter how confident you are; voting places have been known to move around in the era of Covid. What we know for sure (barring some new pandemic wave): Polls will be open Tuesday, November 2, from 7am to 8pm. That means that you can get in line to vote before 7am, and you can vote as long as you were in line by 8pm—even if you don’t get into the actual voting booth until later.
Is there anything I can do to help elections run smoothly this year?
You bet. One of the best things you can do is become a poll worker. To do that, you need to fill out and submit this poll worker interest form. After that, someone from your county board of elections office will contact you to give you an assignment—and yes, it’s a paid position. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you don’t hear from anyone (and let us know about it, because we’ll make a fuss!) You could also post about your experience and join an intrepid contingent of Philly poll workers by joining this Poll Worker Caucus Facebook group.
By the way, what are my rights as a voter in Pennsylvania?
We’re glad you asked! You can find a good rundown of Pennsylvania voters’ rights and responsibilities right here.
Is there anything else I can do besides voting to make Philadelphia a better city?
Yes, engaged citizen, we actually have plenty of suggestions for that: Earlier in the year we laid out 52 things (one for every week) that you can do to make the city better in 2021. We dropped this handy list of ways to take action and save democracy following the frightening insurrection on the Capitol. You could also do your part to stand up for social justice, and by all means get out there and support Philadelphia’s restaurants and Black-owned businesses—because when they thrive, we all do.
If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to email us. We’ll do everything we can to get you an answer. Until then … happy Election Season 2021!Header photo by Phil Scroggs / Unsplash