What you need to know ahead of the 2022 Pa. primary election

Pennsylvania’s primary election is being held Tuesday, May 17. Here’s what you should know beforehand, from election deadlines to who’s on the ballot.

Voters wait in line outside a polling place in Philadelphia.

File photo: Voters wait in line outside a polling place in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Pennsylvania’s primary election is fast approaching. Here’s what you should know ahead of Election Day on Tuesday, May 17.

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What are the deadlines I need to know?

Below are deadlines specific to voting in the May primary.

  • Deadline to register to vote: Monday, May 2
  • Deadline to apply for a mail or absentee ballot: 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 10
  • Deadline to return mail or absentee ballot: 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17

Can I still register to vote?

The deadline for Pennsylvanians to register to vote for the primary election was Monday, May 2. Pennsylvanians can find out whether they are registered to vote online.

Who can register to vote?

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.

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Can I still apply for a mail or absentee ballot?

The deadline to request a mail or absentee ballot has passed.

Can I vote early in person?

The last day to vote early in person was Tuesday, May 10.

What does a ‘closed primary’ mean?

Pennsylvania has a closed primary system, which means that only Democrats and Republicans can vote for their party’s nominees to run in the Nov. 8 general election.

However, people who don’t belong to the two major parties can still vote on local ballot questions.

Regardless of party affiliation, all registered voters in the 5th Senatorial District can vote in that district’s special election, which coincides with the primary on May 17. The special election will determine who will replace former City Councilmember Bobby Henon, who resigned after being convicted of federal corruption and bribery charges.

Where can I drop off my mail ballot?

For those who choose to vote by mail, counties are providing secure drop box locations for ballots.

Drop-off locations for Bucks, Chesco, Delco, and Montco can be found online. WHYY’s Billy Penn has a map of drop boxes in Philly.

Benjamin Graff and his son Jacob Graff drop off their mail-in ballots for the Pennsylvania primary election
Benjamin Graff, center, and his son Jacob Graff, 19, drop off their mail ballots for the Pennsylvania primary election, in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

When must mail ballots be received?

Completed mail ballots must be received by county boards of elections by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Postmarks do not count.

If there isn’t enough time to mail the ballot, voters can drop it off in person at their county elections office or, if available, at a county drop box.

Pennsylvanians can also vote early in person by mail ballot until May 10. Voters can opt for an all-in-one visit to their county election office, where they can apply for a mail ballot, have an election official verify their eligibility, and cast their ballot.

How will I know if my mail ballot was processed?

Voters can check the status of their mail ballot online.

What if I want to vote in person?

Pennsylvanians who would prefer to vote the old-fashioned way can do so in person on Election Day at the polls, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters can find their polling place online.

Where is my polling place?

Voters can find their polling place online.

Voters line up at polling place
Voters line up at the polling place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at Broad and Race streets. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

What if I received an absentee or mail ballot but want to vote in person?

Voters who receive an absentee or mail ballot can opt to vote in person on Election Day. To do so, voters must bring their ballot and the pre-addressed outer return envelope to be voided. After they surrender their ballot and envelope and sign a declaration, they can vote using a regular ballot.

What happens if I request a mail ballot and don’t receive it?

Voters who request a mail ballot but don’t receive it, or don’t have it to surrender, may vote by provisional ballot at their polling place. The provisional ballot will be reviewed by the county board of elections post-Election Day to determine whether it will be counted.

Who is on the ballot?

Two massive races on the ballot include those for Pennsylvania governor and the state’s U.S. Senate seat. Both races will have enormous implications for Pennsylvanians.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb are among those fighting to be the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat. On the Republican side are seven candidates, including Jeff Bartos, David McCormick, and Mehmet Oz.

In the gubernatorial race, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the lone Democrat on the ballot. Nine Republicans are vying for that party’s nomination to face Shapiro in November’s general election. The two top-polling candidates are former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

What else is on the ballot?

Outside of the governor and U.S. Senate races, voters will choose the state’s next lieutenant governor. Spotlight PA breaks down that crowded, if overlooked, race here.

Voters will also choose representatives across Pennsylvania’s 17 U.S. House districts. That includes re-election races for every congressional member who represents Southeastern Pennsylvania’s seven U.S. House districts.

In Philadelphia, voters will weigh in on several ballot measures. WHYY’s Billy Penn breaks them down in its Procrastinator’s Guide to the May 2022 primary.

Voters can look up a sample ballot based on their address.

Voter info & resources

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