What you need to know ahead of the 2021 Pa. general election

Pennsylvania’s general election is being held Tuesday, Nov. 2. Here’s what you need to know beforehand, from election deadlines to who’s on the ballot.

Voters wait in line to casts their ballot in the Pennsylvania primary

Voters, wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus, stand at a distance from each other as they wait in line to casts their ballot in the Pennsylvania primary in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania’s general election is fast approaching, as are election-related deadlines. Here’s what you need to know ahead of Election Day on Nov. 2.

What are the deadlines I need to know?

Below are deadlines specific to voting in the Nov. 2 election.

  • Deadline to register to vote: Monday, Oct. 18.
  • Deadline to apply for a mail ballot: 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26
  • Deadline to return mail ballot: 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2

Can I still register to vote?

The deadline for Pennsylvanians to register to vote for the Nov. 2 election was Monday, Oct. 18. 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.

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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.

Can I still apply for a mail ballot?

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said voters who choose to vote by mail should submit their application as soon as possible to allow enough time for their ballot to be mailed to them, then returned to their county election office in time to be counted.

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 5 p.m. Oct. 26. 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.

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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. The 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.

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.

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?

Pennsylvania voters will elect an array of new judges who will play pivotal roles in shaping policy for at least the next decade on three statewide appellate courts: the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court.

Voters will also elect judges to county Common Pleas Courts and Philadelphia Municipal Court.

Beyond judgeships, voters across the state will elect county, school board, and local officials, such as mayors, city and borough council members, township commissioners and supervisors, magisterial district judges, and precinct election officials.

What else is on the ballot?

In Philadelphia, voters will decide on several ballot measures. WHYY’s Billy Penn breaks them down in its Procrastinator’s Guide to the 2021 November election.

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