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How to Vote in the PA General Election

Everything you need to know about voting in Pennsylvania before the general election on November 2


The next election in Pennsylvania is the general election on November 2, 2021, but early voting begins on September 13, 2021.

We put together this handy voter guide so you can step into the voting booth (or fill out a mail-in ballot) with confidence in who and what you’re voting for.

Keep reading to find easy tips on how to apply for mail-in and absentee ballots, register to vote and/or check your voter registration status, find your polling place and more.

Remember, you can vote if you are a citizen of the United States for at least one month before the election on November 2, 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.

All set? Scroll down for all the info you’ll need on how to vote in Pennsylvania in the next election, or skip ahead to find out how to:


How to register to vote in Pennsylvania

College students help register voters on campus for the November 2020 election
Photo by Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

You have to register by October 18 if you want to vote in the Pennsylvania 2021 general election. When registering, be sure to have your PA driver’s license or PennDOT ID on hand. You’ll need that to fill out your forms.

All set? There are several ways to register to vote in PA:

Register the speedy way, online 🧑‍💻

Click on this link to fill out the Voter Registration Application. Fill it out top to bottom, verify that you’re not a robot and hit send.

When your application is submitted, you’ll receive an application tracking number in your email. You can use that to track your voter registration application status through this form.

When you are successfully registered, you’ll receive a voter registration card in the mail, which details the address of your polling place. That should take about 14 days.

Register the social way, via a voter registration drive

A group of students wearing mask man a table where they are registering people—especially fellow students—to vote.
Local youth help register new voters | Photo by Angie Hinton / When We All Vote

When election times draw near, you may find local organizations manning voter registration drives near busy areas of the city, like groceries and public parks. These folks will have all the tools on hand to help you through the registration process—just remember to have a PA ID handy.

Register the old-fashioned way, by snail 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. Registration applications must be received 15 days before the next election, so make sure your’s is received by

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 stores.

How to check your voter registration status in PA 

Want to verify that you’re registered to vote in PA? The process is simple. Go to this site and enter one of three criteria: your name, driver’s license number or PennDOT ID. Voila!

How to change information on your PA voter registration

The entry of a polling place bustles on election day in Philadelphia as voters rush in to cast their ballot.
Photo by Katherine Rapin

Did your address or name change since the last election? You can update the information on your voter registration by filling out a new voter registration application. If you’re doing it online, click “Change of Name” or “Change of Address” on question three to be sent in the right direction. Question 10 on the printed-out form also gives you a chance to enter a new name and/or address.

How to change your party on your PA voter registration

If you decide you want to change your party to Democrat, Republican, Green, Independent, etc … you can do that by filling out a new voter registration application. If you’re doing it online, “Change of Party” on question three. Question three on the printed-out form also gives you a chance to enter a new party.


How to vote by mail in Pennsylvania

A person puts their mail-in ballot in a drop box before Election Day 2020.
Photo by Cindy Shebley / Flickr

In Pennsylvania, you can begin voting 50 days before Election Day via mail-in ballot, absentee ballot or at a satellite election office (locations TBD). That means you can cast your ballot in the 2021 general election as early as September 13—as long as ballots are ready by then.

How to request a mail-in ballot in PA

Mail-in ballots became the way to vote for most people in the wake of Covid-19, and even though we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel, the practice has stuck for some voters who want to have their vote counted early.

If you would like to request a mail-in ballot, you need to do it by 5pm on October 26, 2021. You can apply 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 about mail-in voting in PA.

How to request an absentee ballot in Pennsylvania

You can request an absentee ballot in PA if you are going to be out of town on Election Day, or if you have an illness or disability that prevents you from going to the polls.

If you would like to request an absentee ballot, you need to do it by 5pm on October 26, 2021 for it to be counted in the general election. You can apply in a variety of ways.

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

How to return your mail ballots in PA

Voters line up outside a satellite election office in South Philadelphia
Voters line up outside a satellite election office at High School For Creative & Performing Arts in South Philly | Photo by Josh Middleton

The state of Pennsylvania gives you several options for returning mail ballots:

  1. By mail. Just drop it in your mailbox or hand it to your neighborhood postal worker.
  2. In person. Take it to your local County Board of Elections (which you can find here). These locations are typically open during regular business hours, from 8am to 5pm. In Philadelphia, the office is located in Room 142 in City Hall. You can call (215) 686-3469 for more information.
  3. Drop boxes. You can submit your mail-in ballot at more than a dozen drop boxes located around Philadelphia, including at spots like City Hall, Eastern State Penitentiary and Smith Playground. You can find one near you here.

What to expect on Election Day

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

When are polls open in Pennsylvania?

If you’re voting in person on Election Day, polls will be open on November 2, 2021, 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.

How to find your polling place in Pennsylvania

Poll workers man a table at the Charles Santore Library in Philadelphia
Poll workers man a table at the Charles Santore Library in Philadelphia | Photo by Katherine Rapin

Polling places are subject to change, so make sure you know where to go if you’re planning to vote in person on November 2. The process is easy. Just go here, and enter your county, city, street name, house number and zip code. Voila!

How to find your voting district in Pennsylvania

Not sure what district you belong to? It’s confusing, we get it. Thankfully there’s an easy way to find out. Just go here and either search by your address, or your county and municipality.

Who’s running for office in the 2021 PA general election?

The official ballots aren’t ready yet. Stay tuned to The Citizen for our official voter guide, which should come out sometime around mid-September. For now, you can check out our primary voter guide to check out some of the candidates that will be on the ballot, such as district attorney candidates Larry Krasner and Chuck Peruto, City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and a host of judges.

Want to become a poll worker?

Four poll workers hold up an information table at a polling station in Philadelphia
Photo by Amanda Feifer

You rock. 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.

Good luck getting out the vote, Pennsylvania!


Header photo by Phil Roeder / Flickr