We put together this handy how-to-vote guide so that you can step into the voting booth (or fill out a mail-in ballot) with confidence.
Keep reading to find easy tips on how to register to vote in Pennsylvania, how to check your registration status, how to sign up for mail-in ballots, and how to find your polling place and voting district.
An informed voter is the best kind of voter (though all voters are pretty great), so we hope you’ll find this useful in the pursuit of your No. 1 civic duty.
Scroll down for all the info you’ll need to vote in Philadelphia in the next election, or skip ahead to find out:
- HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN PA
- HOW TO CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION STATUS IN PA
- HOW TO CHANGE INFO ON YOUR PA VOTER REGISTRATION
- HOW TO REQUEST A MAIL-IN BALLOT
- HOW TO REQUEST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT
- HOW TO FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE IN PA
- HOW TO FIND YOUR VOTING DISTRICT IN PA
- WHO YOU’LL BE VOTING FOR IN THE PA GENERAL ELECTION
REGISTERING TO VOTE IN PENNSYLVANIA
You can vote in the general election if you are a citizen of the United States for at least one month before Election Day, 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 Election Day.
Check all those boxes? ? There are several ways to register to vote in PA:
HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE 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.
HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE 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. Registration applications must be received in county voter registration offices by close of business on the voter registration deadline.
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 REGISTER TO VOTE IN-PERSON
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 valid PA ID handy.
CHECKING VOTER REGISTRATION AND MAKING UPDATES
The last thing you want to do is show up to the polls on Election Day to find out you’re not even registered. It’s always a good idea to double check. We show you how to do that below, along with making updates to your registration status — whether it’s changing your address or swapping political parties.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION 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 YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION INFORMATION IN PA
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 No. 3 to be sent in the right direction. Question No. 10 on the printed-out form also gives you a chance to enter a new name and/or address.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR POLITICAL PARTY IN PENNSYLVANIA
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, click “Change of Party” on question No. 3. Question No. 3 on the printed-out form also gives you a chance to enter a new party.
VOTING BY MAIL IN PENNSYLVANIA
In Pennsylvania, you can begin voting 50 days before Election Day via mail-in ballot, absentee ballot or at a satellite election office.
HOW REQUEST A MAIL-IN BALLOT
Mail-in ballots became the way to vote for most people during 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 can apply in a variety of ways.
- Apply for a mail-in ballot online with a valid PA driver’s license or photo I.D. from (PennDOT).
- Apply for a mail-in ballot by mail and send it to your county elections office.
- 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. (You have to renew your request annually.)
This page answers any other questions you may have about mail-in voting in PA.
HOW TO REQUEST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT
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 can apply in a variety of ways.
- Apply for an absentee ballot online with a valid PA driver’s license or photo I.D. from (PennDOT).
- Apply for an absentee ballot by mail and send it to your county elections office.
- You can also apply in person at your county elections office.
WHERE TO RETURN MAIL-IN BALLOTS IN PHILLY
The state of Pennsylvania gives you several options for returning mail ballots:
- By mail. Just drop it in your mailbox or hand it to your neighborhood postal worker.
- 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.
- Drop boxes. You can drop off your mail-in ballot at more than a dozen drop boxes located around Philadelphia (locations TBD). They are accessible 24 hours a day and constantly monitored by security cameras.
VOTING ON ELECTION DAY IN PHILLY
Here’s what you can expect on Election Day in Philadelphia this November, including where to find your polling place and voting district, and who’s running for office.
WHEN ARE THE POLLS OPEN IN PHILADELPHIA?
If you’re voting in person on Election Day, 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
Polling places are subject to change, so make sure you know where to go if you’re planning to vote in person. 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
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.
Good luck getting out the vote, Pennsylvania!Photo courtesy Element5 Digital / Unsplash