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Voting in Pennsylvania: How to vote by mail or cast an in-person ballot at the polls

A guide to participating in the Nov. 2, 2021 general election in Pennsylvania.

Voting. (Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

Monday, Oct. 18, is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania for the Nov. 2, 2021 general election.

While it’s an “off” year for members of Congress and a presidential election, Pennsylvanians will have a host of positions and issues on their ballots this year.

You may register to vote through midnight today at PAVoterServices.PA/gov. If you’re 18 or older, a U.S. citizen and have lived in Pennsylvania for at least 30 days, you are eligible. A few things to keep in mind:

Vote by mail

All Pennsylvania voters can now vote by mail, for any reason. If you plan to vote by mail, you may apply for a mail-in ballot through Oct. 26 at 5 p.m., and your filled-in ballot must be must be received by your county election office by Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. If you plan on dropping it in the mailbox, give yourself about a week of headway before that Nov. 2 deadline, officials said last year.

In all 67 counties, a voter can return their own ballot to a local election office in person (find the address here). Some counties have set up satellite offices and drop boxes, which you can find here. If you did not return your mail-in ballot and instead want to vote in-person, you have two options, PA.gov says:

“Bring your ballot and the pre-addressed outer return envelope to your polling place to be voided. After you surrender your ballot and envelope and sign a declaration, you can then vote with a regular ballot. If you don’t surrender your ballot and return envelope, you can only vote by provisional ballot at your polling place. Your county election board will then verify that you did not vote by mail before counting your provisional ballot.”

Vote in person at the polls

Polls will be open Tuesday, Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you plan on heading to vote in person this year, here’s what you’ll need. Be sure you know where your polling location is (check here), bring a snack or a drink in case you’re waiting for a while, and remember to bring some form of ID if it is your first time voting at that polling place. While you’re voting, know your rights:

  • If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line — you have the right to vote.
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one.
  • If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.

For help or questions, you can call the ACLU’s nonpartisan Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-687-8683 for English and 1-888-839-8682 for Spanish.

If you are told your name is not in the list of registered voters, you should request a provisional ballot.

What’s on the ballot?

Pennsylvanians will have a slew of judge appointments to vote on this year, including judges to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Court and the PA Court of Common Pleas.

And in Pittsburgh, of course, the big names on the ballot are for the mayoral race. Technical.ly spoke to both State Rep. Ed Gainey, the Democratic candidate, and retired police officer Tony Moreno, the Republican candidate, about how their platforms relate to Pittsburgh tech.

Companies: State of Pennsylvania

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