How to register to vote in Pa. before the May 2021 primary

Jean Gary drops off her ballot at City Hall

Jean Gary, a North Philadelphia resident, drops off her ballot at City Hall. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Pennsylvania’s 2021 municipal primary election is fast approaching.

On May 18, voters will choose their parties’ nominees for seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court, county Common Pleas Courts, and Philadelphia Municipal Court.

Also on party ballots: a number of county, school board, and local seats such as mayor, city or borough council member, township commissioner or supervisor, magisterial district judges, and precinct election officials.

Since Pennsylvania is a “closed” primary state, voters registered as a Republican or Democrat may only vote for candidates in their respective party.

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All registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, will also vote on four ballot questions, three of which concern proposed amendments to the state constitution and one of which concerns fire and EMS company eligibility for an existing state loan program.

If you want to cast a ballot in the commonwealth, you can register online, or by filling out this form and returning it to your county election office. You can also register in person at your county office, at a PennDOT driver’s license center, or at a variety of other state-run offices.

Applicants using the online voter registration system must submit their application by 11:59 p.m. on May 3. Traditional paper voter registration forms must be received by May 3.

Voters can double-check their voter registration using the state’s online portal.

Voters can apply for mail ballots — by submitting a request online, sending this form to the county election office, or going in person to the county election office to request one — through May 11. Mail ballots must be received at county election offices by 8 p.m. on May 18.

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Anyone can register to vote, so long as they will have been a U.S. citizen for at least 30 days before the election, are a resident of Pennsylvania, and are going to be at least 18 on or before Election Day.

People who are incarcerated for felonies can’t vote under state law. People who are serving time for lesser charges or are out on probation, parole, or house arrest are eligible.

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid reminded eligible Pennsylvanians of the approaching municipal primary election in a press release.

“I encourage all eligible voters to make sure that they are registered, and their information is up to date,” Degraffenreid said. “Municipal elections give residents the opportunity to select the local leaders who make decisions that affect our daily lives.”

Voter info & resources

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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