How to Register, Vote and Track Your Ballot in Pennsylvania

Posted on 11/10/22 by Andrew Soergel

En español | The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in August 2022 upheld the state's mail voting law, which will allow all voters to cast no-excuse mail-in ballots. The court also ruled that absentee and mail-in ballots that are missing or have incorrect dates will be set aside and not counted.

The 2022 midterms in Pennsylvania decided races for governor, U.S. House and Senate, seats in the state legislature and other state and local offices. The next statewide elections are in 2024, with some local elections in 2023.

  • Absentee and mail voting: Any registered voter can request a no-excuse mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots — which are distinct from mail-in ballots and are also submitted by mail — are reserved for people who have a disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polls, or for people who are out of town on Election Day.
  • Voting at the polls: You don't need to bring a valid form of ID on Election Day, unless it's your first time voting.
Election Day In Reading Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania adopted a new congressional map after losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2020 Census, which could impact which U.S. House, state legislature and local office candidates appear on your ballot.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in October ruled that improperly dated absentee and mail ballots would not be counted — and in August it upheld the state's mail voting law, allowing all voters to cast no-excuse mail-in ballots.

You can check if you are registered to vote through the Pennsylvania voter services and information portal.

In a Pennsylvania primary election it does. Only registered voters of a specific party may vote in that party’s primary. Independent voters cannot participate.

Any registered voter can request a no-excuse mail-in ballot and vote safely from home. You’ll need to submit a new request each year, but you can register with the state’s annual mail-in voter list to receive a ballot application by mail each February.

Absentee ballots, which are also submitted by mail, are reserved for people who have a disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polls — or for people who are out of town on the day of the election. 

You can apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot online, by mail or in person:

  • Online: Use the state’s ballot request portal. You’ll need a state driver’s license or a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ID number to apply. If you don’t have either, you’ll be asked for the last four digits of your Social Security number and to upload a picture of your signature. If you don’t have a valid ID or a Social Security number, you’ll need to apply by mail or in person.

Return completed ballots by mail, in person or via another person, or “agent,” if you’re disabled. Election officials must receive ballots by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Be sure to sign and date the pre-addressed outer envelope.

  • By mail: Seal your completed ballot in the inner secrecy envelope, then seal that envelope in the pre-addressed return envelope. Send it to your county board of elections office.
  • Through an agent: Most voters can’t enlist someone else to return their ballot. But if you have a disability that prevents you from applying for, receiving or returning a mail-in or absentee ballot yourself, you can designate an agent to return your ballot for you.

Use the state’s voter portal to track the status of your mail-in or absentee ballot.

In the event of an emergency, such as an unexpected illness or unplanned trip out of town, you may be able to request an emergency absentee ballot.

Yes. Once your county finalizes and begins distributing mail-in and absentee ballots, you can request and complete one in person at your county board of elections office.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Use the state's voter information portal to find a polling place near you.

No — unless it is your first time voting, in which case you’ll need to show an approved form of ID like a state-issued driver’s license or a U.S. passport.

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Nov. 10 with more information about voting in Pennsylvania. The guide was first published on July 30, 2020.

This story is provided by AARP Pennsylvania. Visit the AARP Pennsylvania page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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