The 2023 primary elections are quickly approaching. This year, ACT is proud to work alongside local partners to share important information and resources with our Pennsylvania community. Learn about the significance of a closed primary election and how you, as a resident of Pennsylvania, can ensure that your voice is heard.
You can register and vote in the Pennsylvania Primary Elections if you are:
- A citizen of the United States
- 18 years old or older by Election Day
- Registered with a particular party
- A resident of Pennsylvania
Voting and registering to vote when you are not a U.S. citizen is a crime and can prevent you from becoming a citizen.
|Registration Deadline||May 1, 2023|
|Last Day to Request a Mail-in Ballot by 5:00 p.m. Recommended to request by April 28th.||May 9, 2023|
|Return the mail ballot by 8:00 p.m. Recommended to return by May 10th.||May 16, 2023|
|Election Day||May 16, 2023|
Pennsylvania is a closed primary state.
What is a closed primary state?
In a closed primary state, a voter can only vote in the Primary Election for candidates of the political party that the voter is registered with.
In the General Election all voters, regardless of what party they are registered with, are allowed to vote for all candidates running for election.
What if I’m registered with a third party or no party?
If a voter is unaffiliated, meaning they are registered with no party at all, they will not see any candidates on the Primary Election ballot. The Primary Election is for each party to determine its final candidate for the General Election. Only members of that party can decide who the final candidate representing them in the General Election can be.
If a voter is registered with a third party, they will only see candidate options if that party is running a candidate that election year. Important to note, not all third parties run candidates each year or in all districts.
All voters, regardless of party affiliation, are able to vote on ballot questions and nonpartisan contests, such as vacancies that will be filled by special elections, in the Primary Election. Important to note not every year will have ballot questions and special elections.
In the General Election all voters, regardless of what party they are or are not registered with, are allowed to vote for any candidate running for election.
I’m not sure which party I’m registered with
You can check your voter registration status at : https://vote.pa.gov/status
There is always an option to change which party you are registered with at any point in the year. Changing one's party affiliation is done with the same registration form you use to sign up to vote. Voters must update their registration before the upcoming voter registration deadline in order to see the change reflected in their ballot.
Deadline to change your party
If you would like to update your party affiliation, you will need to update your voter registration. The deadline to register to vote is May 1, 2023. You can register to vote at your county election office, by mail, or online at https://vote.pa.gov/register.
Everyone who is eligible has a right to vote.
To get the most up-to-date information about the election, get help with any voting-related issue, or report a problem on Election Day, you can call one of these nonpartisan voter hotlines:
English: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Español and English: 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) NALEO Educational Fund
(عربى Arabic and English: 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287) Arab American Institute (AAI)
American sign language video call: 301-818-VOTE (8683) National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
You can also call the state’s election’s bureau for help, including how to find your city or county’s election office: 1-877-VOTESPA
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q'S)
I recently registered to vote. How do I make sure I really am registered?
It takes a few days for the county election office to review your registration form and add you to the list.
- You can check your registration status by calling your county board of election or going online with the PA Department of State.
- If you get a notice that your registration has been rejected, or you have a question, call 866-OUR-VOTE for assistance.
I am a registered voter, but I recently moved. Am I still registered to vote?
- Yes. But, if you want to vote close to your new home, or if you want to vote by mail, you will need to update your registration with your new address. You can change your address online with the PA Department of State. If you want to register in person, or on paper, call 1-877-VOTESPA for help.
- You may also go back to your old polling place and vote there. If you moved less than 30 days before an election, you must vote at your old polling location. If you moved from out-of-state, you need to register to vote in Pennsylvania.
Can I register and vote if I have a criminal record?
Yes, you can vote as long as you are not currently incarcerated for a felony. You can vote if you are on probation or parole, are under house arrest, or are serving time for a misdemeanor conviction.
I was born in Puerto Rico. Can I vote in Pennsylvania?
If you were born in Puerto Rico, you are automatically a U.S. citizen and are able to register to vote in Pennsylvania (or the state where you live).
Where do I go to vote?
You can find your polling place at votepa.gov, by calling 866-OUR-VOTE, or by calling your county election office.
Do I need a photo ID to vote in person?
No. Only voters who are voting for the first time in their polling location need to show ID. You can use a photo ID, including an employee or student ID if you have one. You can also use a non-photo ID, like a utility bill or bank statement that has your address. You should not be asked for your ID if you have voted before at that polling location.
What if they tell me I am not on the list of voters?
First, ask the election official to check the list again or to look at the supplemental poll book (a list of recent changes to the voting rolls). Offer to spell your name. If you believe you’re at the right polling place but your name isn’t on the voter list, ask for a provisional ballot, they are required to give you one. Please report your experience to 866-OUR-VOTE.
What is a provisional ballot?
A provisional ballot is used to record your vote when there’s a question about your eligibility or if you requested a mail-ballot. It will be counted if election officials determine that you were eligible to vote.
Can my right to vote be challenged at the poll?
Yes, but only for certain reasons and by certain people. An election official, poll watcher, or another voter may only challenge a voter if they think the voter does not live in the precinct or is not the person the voter says they are.
How do I request a mail-in ballot?
Submit an online application for a mail-in or absentee ballot.
What do I do if my request for a mail-in ballot is denied?
If you get a notice that your request was denied, call 866-OUR-VOTE to get free assistance from a lawyer.
When will I get my ballot?
By law, the county must send your mail-in ballot two weeks before the election. If it doesn’t arrive, or you lose it, or make a mistake while you are marking the ballot, call your county election office for a replacement. You can check or track your ballot at vote.pa.gov/mailballotstatus.
Can someone else drop off my mail ballot for me?
You must return your own ballot. If you have a disability you can designate someone else to return your ballot for you by filling out the Authorized Designated Agent form at vote.pa.gov.
Can I change my mind about voting by mail after I’ve applied?
Yes. Bring your ballot and the return envelope to your polling place on Election Day. Poll workers will cancel it, and you can vote in person in a polling booth. If you don’t have your ballot, you will have to vote on a provisional ballot.
Will my vote really be counted if I vote by mail?
Voting by mail is safe. There are checks in place that can prevent your vote from not being counted. If you suspect it is lost in the mail, or if you lose it in the house, you can call your county election office and request a replacement. Google your county’s election office, or call 1-877-VOTESPA to be connected.
For your ballot to be counted you must:
- Insert your marked ballot into the secrecy envelope, the one marked “Official Election Ballot.” Seal the envelope and do not make any marks on that envelope.
- Insert the sealed secrecy envelope into the outer return envelope addressed to the county.
- You MUST sign your name and handwrite the date on the return envelope.
- If you do not sign and date the envelope your ballot will NOT be counted.
Disclaimer: This guide to voting in Pennsylvania is not legal advice. If you have questions about your eligibility or rights, please call 866-OUR-VOTE or consult a lawyer.
For more information, visit vote.pa.gov.