Pa. election 2023: A complete guide to who is on the ballot, when to vote, how to vote, where to vote, casting mail ballots & more

Pennsylvanians will see candidates for state Supreme Court, municipal races, and more on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

Sign outside of a polling place

(Amanda Berg for Spotlight PA)

This story originally appeared on Spotlight PA.

Lea en español.

On Nov. 7, Pennsylvanians will cast their vote for a new state Supreme Court justice, as well as for new judges to sit on Commonwealth and Superior Courts. Voters will also decide whether two appellate judges on Superior Court should get another term.

Across the state, depending on where you live, there might also be municipal races on the ballot, for offices like mayor and school board, along with ballot questions.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

To help you prepare for Election Day 2023 in Pennsylvania, we’ve answered some of your most frequently asked questions below:

When is the 2023 Election Day in Pennsylvania?

Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Mark your calendar!

When do polls open for Pennsylvania’s 2023 election?

Polls open at 7 a.m and close at 8 p.m. As long as you are in line to vote by 8 p.m., you are entitled to cast a ballot.

When is the last day to register to vote?

The last day to register is Oct. 23.

You can register online here, or submit a registration form in person or through the mail to your county election office by the same date.

Online voter registration applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m that day. The county board of elections must receive mail and in-person applications by 5 p.m.

How can I check my registration?

You can check your registration here. You can search using your name, county, ZIP code, and birthday, or by entering your driver’s license or PennDOT identification card number.

How do I change parties?

To change your party affiliation, fill out the same voter registration form that you used to register the first time.

When filling out the form, select the box that says “change of party.” If you register less than 15 days before the election, the change will not take place until the next election cycle.

I’m a registered independent. Can I still vote on Nov. 7?

Absolutely! Unlike during Pennsylvania’s primaries, during the general election all registered voters can vote for any candidate.

How do I find my polling place?

You can find your polling place here by entering your address.

What else do I need to know to vote in person?

If this is your first time voting or your first time voting since changing address, you’ll need to bring proof of identification. This can include any government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or U.S. passport, a utility bill or bank statement that includes your name and address, or a military or student ID. See the full list of options.

Can I still request a mail ballot?

You can apply for a mail ballot until Oct. 31, either online or through the mail. However, your complete application must be received by the county office by 5 p.m. that day.

Here’s the application. You’ll need to provide your name, date of birth, proof of identification, and signature.

How do I vote absentee?

The process to request an absentee ballot is similar to that for requesting a mail ballot. You can apply online or download the form and send it to your county election office. However, the application requires you to list a reason for your absence, unlike a mail ballot. You can find the application here.

Applications are due Oct. 31 by 5 p.m. and must be received by the county office by that time.

If you miss the Oct. 31 deadline, you can still request an emergency absentee ballot from your county election office if you experience an unexpected illness, disability, or last-minute absence. You can request one here.

I applied but still haven’t gotten my absentee or mail ballot. What should I do?

You can check the status of your absentee or mail ballot here. If you’re worried your ballot won’t arrive with enough time to return it, you can call your county election office for advice on how to proceed.

You can also go to your county election office to request a ballot and fill it out on the spot, or go to your polling place and vote in person on Election Day.

I’ve received my absentee or mail ballot. How do I return it?

First, make sure you’ve filled it out completely and followed all instructions, including dating the ballot envelope properly. Otherwise, your ballot may not be counted.

Everyone can return their ballot through the mail or by dropping it off at their county election office. Some counties also have drop boxes available. Find county contact information here.

Your county election office must receive your ballot by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

If you have a disability that prevents you from returning your own ballot, you may fill out a form to designate someone else to return it for you. You must turn in the form with your mail ballot application, and the designee must have a copy on hand when they return your ballot.

Otherwise, you must return your own ballot.

Which races will I be voting on?

Voters statewide will decide the next state Supreme Court justice, select which judges will join the Supreme and Commonwealth Courts, and also determine whether two judges will get additional terms on Superior Court. The candidates who win these seats will have tremendous impact across the commonwealth, potentially for decades, and be able to shape the future of the state when it comes to pressing issues like abortion, education, and the environment.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the highest court in the state. Comprised of seven justices, the court is responsible for interpreting Pennsylvania’s laws and constitution to make final judgments on legal questions.

Democrat Daniel McCaffery and Republican Carolyn Carluccio are both running for the vacant seat.

Carluccio serves as a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. She was elected to the seat in 2009. Throughout Carluccio’s career, she has worked as both a prosecutor and a defender. She spent some time in private practice before becoming assistant U.S. attorney in Delaware in 1989. After working in that role for almost a decade, she worked as chief public defender of Montgomery County for four years, and later chief deputy solicitor for Montgomery County. She is endorsed by the Pennsylvania Republican Party and PA Pro-Life Federation, which opposes abortion access. Carluccio says her diverse court experience is an asset.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

McCaffery has been a judge on Superior Court since 2019. He began his professional law career as a prosecutor at the Philadelphia district attorney’s office in the 1990s, where he worked for six years. From there, he moved to a private practice for several years and then unsuccessfully ran for Philadelphia district attorney in 2009 before joining the Court of Common Pleas in 2013. He is endorsed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and various trade organizations. McCaffery says his decades of experience on the bench make him the ideal candidate for state Supreme Court.

Both candidates are “highly recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Read more about the candidates and their positions.

Superior Court

Superior Court is one of the commonwealth’s two intermediate appellate courts. The court is made up of 15 judges and handles criminal, civil, and family cases that are appealed from lower courts. It is the statewide court that an average Pennsylvanian is most likely to interact with.

There are four candidates vying for two seats on the bench — two Republicans and two Democrats — in addition to two current judges who are seeking to extend their terms.

Maria Battista is a Clarion County resident running as a Republican. Battista has served as assistant general counsel for the health and state departments for two Pennsylvania governors — Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Tom Wolf. She currently works as vice president of state and federal contracting for a Wayne-based consulting firm. She left the Department of Defense to run for office.

Battista is not recommended by the Pennsylvania Bar Association because she opted to not participate in their evaluation process.

Harry Smail is running as a Republican. Smail has been a judge on the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas since 2014, when he was appointed by Corbett. He’s worked as a private practice attorney, served as a solicitor for two county row offices, and ran unsuccessfully for several county offices.

Smail was “recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Democratic candidate Jill Beck is an attorney based in Pittsburgh who works in commercial litigation. Beck clerked for Judge Christine Donohue on the state Supreme and Superior Courts for several years, and says she drafted over 500 opinions in that time. This is not the first time Beck has run for Superior Court. She ran in 2021, but lost the primary to Timika Lane of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Beck is “highly recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Timika Lane has served as a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas since 2013, when she was elected to the role. She previously clerked for Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, worked for the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and served as legal counsel for state Sen. Anthony Williams (D., Philadelphia). Lane ran in 2021 for Superior Court. While she won the Democratic primary, she lost in the general election.

Lane is “highly recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

In addition to the four candidates running, there are two sitting Superior Court judges seeking to serve another 10-year term. On the ballot, there will be a separate section labeled “Judicial Retentions” and voters will be asked to select “yes” or “no” for each judge.

Judge Vic Stabile, who was elected as a Republican in 2013, is seeking a second term. President Judge Jack Panella, who was elected as a Democrat in 2003, is seeking a third.

Read more about the candidates and their positions.

Commonwealth Court

Commonwealth Court is one of two intermediate appellate courts in the state and is made up of nine judges. The court specifically presides over civil actions brought against the commonwealth, including state and local governments, and regulatory agencies.

Two candidates are running for the court’s one vacant seat.

Republican candidate Megan Martin is a Cumberland County resident and former secretary and parliamentarian of the state Senate. She has worked as an attorney for former Republican Govs. Tom Ridge and Corbett, as well as the U.S. Navy. She was also a law clerk for a Lancaster County judge.

Democrat candidate Matt Wolf has been a judge on the Philadelphia Municipal Court since 2017, where he has presided over civil and criminal cases. He worked as a trial attorney for 25 years at various firms, including his father’s and his own. He also was an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and worked as a legal advisor to the Army.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association “recommended” both candidates.

Read more about the candidates and their positions.

What else will be on my ballot?

All Pennsylvania voters will be able to select judges in the statewide judicial races, but certain parts of the state will also vote in municipal elections for various offices, which may include mayor, city council, controller, judges for Court of Common Pleas, and more.

There are no statewide ballot measures this year, but some voters may see local ballot questions, including residents of Chester County, Lehigh County, and Philadelphia.

Check with your county election office to be sure.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal