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Voting in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania does not permit online voter registration, early voting, or no-excuse absentee voting. Since Pennsylvania's voter ID law was struck down in 2014, there are currently no identification requirements for voters in the state.

For full information about voting in Pennsylvania, contact the state election agency.


To vote in Pennsylvania, a resident must fulfill the following requirements:[1]

  • A citizen of the United States for at least one month before the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.
  • A resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which you want to register and vote for at least 30 days before the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.
  • At least 18 years of age on or before the day of the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.[2]

When and where

The deadline for registering to vote is 30 days before an election. Registration can be done in person or by mail. There are two ways to register by mail:[1]

  • Get a Voter Registration Mail Application form from the state or federal government. The Secretary of the Commonwealth and all county registration commissions supply Voter Registration Mail Applications to all persons and organizations who request them, including candidates, political parties and political bodies and other federal, state and municipal offices.
  • Download the Voter Registration Application. Print, complete, sign and deliver to your County Voter Registration Office by mail or in person.[2]

—Pennsylvania Department of State

Voters can register in person at their County Voter Registration Office, the Department of Transportation, or any of the following locations:[1]

  • State offices that provide public assistance and services to persons with disabilities
  • Armed Forces Recruitment Centers
  • County Clerk of Orphans' Court offices, including each Marriage License Bureau
  • Area Agencies on Aging
  • Centers for Independent Living
  • County Mental Health and Mental Retardation offices
  • Student disability services offices of the State System of Higher Education
  • Offices of Special Education
  • DA Complementary Paratransit offices[2]

—Pennsylvania Department of State

Online registration

See also: Online voter registration in the 50 states

As of April 2015, Pennsylvania is one of 30 states that have not implemented full online voter registration. Pennsylvania had a bill pending in the 2013 legislative session which would have authorized online voter registration. On April 17, 2013, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed the bill. However, as of January 2015 that bill had not been passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.[3][4]

Voting on Election Day

Voter identification

See also: Voter identification laws by state

First-time voters must present identification at the polls. Valid identification includes photo and non-photo identification.[5]

A law requiring all Pennsylvania voters to present photo identification was signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett in March 2012.[6] On July 25, 2012, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court heard a challenge against the law from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other voting rights groups.[7] On August 16, 2012, Judge Robert Simpson dismissed the challenge.[8] Supporters and opponents next argued the validity of the voter ID law before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on September 13, 2012.[9] On September 18, 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a 4-2 per curiam (unsigned) decision that sent the case back to the trial court.[10][11] The state's high court asked the trial court "to ensure there is 'liberal access' to new voting-only IDs and there will be 'no disenfranchisement' of voters on Nov. 6."[12] In response, a judge ruled that the Pennsylvania voter ID law could remain intact for the 2014 general election.[13] However, a narrow injunction permitted those without IDs to cast a ballot.[14] The state's voter ID law was also not enforced for the May 2013 primary election.[15] On January 17, 2014, Judge Bernard McGinley of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court struck down the requirement that all voters must present photo identification, claiming that this part of the law was unconstitutional because it lacked a way to give voters liberal access to voter photo IDs. These photo IDs had to be obtained through Department of Transportation licensing centers, of which there were only 71 across the state at the time, many with limited hours. Judge McGinley argued that this was an inconvenience to voters and could easily disenfranchise them. The ruling did not strike down the entire law, but it did prohibit the state from enforcing the photo ID requirement.[16] On January 27, 2014 lawyers on behalf of Gov. Tom Corbett filed a request that Judge Bernard McGinley reconsider his ruling to strike down the voter ID requirement.[17] McGinley denied the request.[18] On May 8, 2014, Corbett announced that he would not be appealing the court ruling and would instead work with the Pennsylvania State Legislature to work on changes to the original law.[19]

Poll times

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times

In Pennsylvania, all polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.[20]

Primary voting

Pennsylvania is one of 12 states to use a strictly closed primary process. Voters are required to register with a political party to vote in the primary election.[21][22][23]

Absentee voting

See also: Absentee voting


A voter is eligible to vote absentee in an election if he or she cannot make it to the polls on Election Day for one of the following reasons:[24]

  • A person who is or may be in the military service of the United States, regardless of whether at the time of voting the person is present in the election district of residence or in the Commonwealth and regardless of whether he or she is registered to vote.
  • A spouse or dependent residing with or accompanying a person in the military service of the United States and who expects on Election Day to be absent from his or her municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • A member of the Merchant Marine and his/her spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying the Merchant Marine, who expect on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • A member of a religious or welfare group attached to and serving with the armed forces and his/her spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying him or her, who expect on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • An individual who, because of the elector's duties, occupation or business (including attendance of college in another county/state, leaves of absence for teaching, vacations and sabbatical leaves), expects on Election Day to be absent from his/her municipality of residence during the entire period the polls are open for voting and the spouse and dependents of such electors who are residing with or accompanying the elector and for that reason also expect to be absent from his/her municipality during the entire period the polls are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • A qualified war veteran elector who is bedridden or hospitalized due to illness or physical disability if the elector is absent from the municipality of his residence and unable to attend his/her polling place because of such illness or disability, regardless of whether the elector is registered to vote.
  • A person who, because of illness or physical disability, is unable to attend his/her polling place or to operate a voting machine and obtain assistance by distinct and audible statements. (Note: A disabled elector may be placed on a permanently disabled absentee file.)
  • A spouse or dependent accompanying a person employed by the Commonwealth or the Federal Government, in the event that the employee's duties, occupation or business on Election Day require him/her to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period the polls are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • A county employee who expects that his Election Day duties relating to the conduct of the election will prevent the employee from voting.
  • A person who will not attend a polling place on Election Day because of the observance of a religious holiday.[2]

—Pennsylvania Department of State


A request to vote by absentee ballot must be received no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election. Completed non-emergency absentee ballots must be received by 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. In presidential election years, absentee ballots received after the state deadline but by the time polls close on Election Day will be counted for the offices of president and vice president.[24]

Military and overseas voting

For full details regarding military and overseas voting, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

2012 developments

Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Corbett (R) issued an executive order extending the deadline for receipt of completed absentee ballots by the county Board of Elections to 5 p.m. on November 5, 2012. The extension applied to those counties where the Board of Elections was closed due to Hurricane Sandy.[25]

Early voting

See also: Early voting

Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that do not have any form of early voting.[26]

Election policy ballot measures

Voting on
elections and campaigns
Ballot measures
By state
By year
Not on ballot
See also: Elections and campaigns on the ballot and List of Pennsylvania ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked no ballot measures relating to election and campaign policy in Pennsylvania

Recent news

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See also

Elections in Pennsylvania

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 VotesPA, "How to Register," accessed June 10, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. CBS, "Bill To Allow For On-Line Voter Registration In Pennsylvania Clears The State Senate," April 17, 2013
  4. Open States, "SB37," accessed June 10, 2014
  5. votesPA, "First-Time Voter," accessed April 7, 2015
  6. Centre Daily Times, "Judge spikes photo ID requirement for Pa. voters," January 17, 2014
  7. The Nation, "Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Goes to Court," July 24, 2012
  8. The Wall Street Journal, "A Voter ID Victory," August 17, 2012
  9. The Patriot-News, "Voter ID law set for review by state Supreme Court," September 9, 2012
  10. Election Law Blog, "The Pa. Supreme Court’s Curious Voter ID Punt," September 18, 2012
  11. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pa. voter ID law gets new hearings for next week," September 21, 2012
  12. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Pennsylvania voter ID requirements change," September 25, 2012
  13. Governing, "Judge Halts Part of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law," October 2, 2012
  14. Election Law Blog, "CORRECTED Breaking News: PA Trial Court Requires State to Count Ballots from Voters Without ID This Election, Now Updated with Analysis," October 2, 2012
  15. Pocono Record, "Voter ID rule won't be enforced during May primary," February 19, 2013
  16. Centre Daily Times, "Judge spikes photo ID requirement for Pa. voters," January 17, 2014
  17., "Corbett wants judge to reconsider voter ID ruling," Updated January 28, 2014
  18., "Judge denies Commonwealth's motion in voter ID case," April 28, 2014
  19., "Pennsylvania governor won’t appeal voter ID ruling," May 8, 2014
  20. VotesPA, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed January 3, 2014
  21. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  22. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  23. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  24. 24.0 24.1 VotesPA, "Voting by Absentee Ballot," accessed December 16, 2013
  25. The Times Herald, "Gov. Tom Corbett gives executive order to extend completed absentee ballots," November 1, 2012
  26. National Conference of State Legislatures, "Absentee and Early Voting," accessed December 16, 2013