How to Vote in the Pittsburgh Primary Election

Posted on 04/27/21 by Catherine Maddux

Pittsburgh’s primary election for mayor, city council, school board, district judges, constables and other offices is approaching, with options to vote safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Election 2020 Pennsylvania

  • The primary is Tuesday, May 18. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • You can find your polling place on the Allegheny County website or by calling the county elections division at 412-350-4500 for assistance. The general election is Nov. 2.

How do I register to vote?

To cast your ballot in the primary, you must register to vote by May 3. You can register in several ways.

  • To register online, go to the Pennsylvania voter services website. You must complete your application by May 3.
  • To register by mail, download and complete the voter registration form and return it to Allegheny County’s Elections Division at 542 Forbes Ave., 6th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 by 5 p.m. on May 3.
  • To register in person, bring your completed application to the elections division office (542 Forbes Ave., 6th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219) by May 3. You can also apply in person at the office. It’s open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • You can also register while obtaining your driver’s license at the Department of Transportation. For more information, visit the DOT’s website or call 717-412-5300 — or toll-free at 1-800-932-4600. TTY callers can dial 711.
  • If you’re active-duty military or a hospitalized or bedridden veteran, you can request an absentee ballot through the Federal Voting Assistance Program website, by calling toll-free at 800-438-8683, or via DSN: 425-1584 for internationally based active-duty military or veterans.

How can I get a mail-in or absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?

Any registered voter can request either ballot and safely vote from home. Absentee ballots – like mail-in ballots – are considered mail ballots, with one difference: You will need to provide a valid reason to vote by mail ballot if you are an absentee voter (for example, if you have a disability or an illness that prevents you from traveling to your polling place on Election Day, or if you are absent from your municipality on that day). No reason is required if you vote with a mail-in ballot, but you must apply for one annually. For more information, visit the state elections website.

You can apply online, by mail or in person at the Allegheny County Elections Division (542 Forbes Ave., 6th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219). Your request must be received (not just postmarked) by 5 p.m. on May 11 for you to vote in the primary.

  • Online: Fill out and submit an application on the Pennsylvania voter services website. Applications are available in both English and Spanish.
  • By mail: Download an application from the state voter services website, fill it out, print it and submit it to the Allegheny County Elections Division (542 Forbes Ave., 6th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219). You can also call the office for assistance at 412-350-4500.
  • If you're unable to submit an application online or don't have a printer to download the form, call the country election division at 412-350-4500.
  • The deadline to return (not just postmark) a completed absentee or mail-in ballot is 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, May 18.
  • If you miss the deadline due to an emergency, such as an unexpected illness or disability or a last-minute absence from your municipality, you may still be able to get a ballot after the deadline. The state voter services website has more information about how to get an emergency absentee ballot, or you can call the county elections division at 412-350-4500.

When is Election Day? When are the polls open?

The primary election is on Tuesday, May 18. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Find your polling place on the state voter services website or by calling the county elections division at 412-350-4500.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

Pennsylvania does not formally offer early in-person voting, but you can go to the local elections office and fill out a mail-in ballot application.  You can then complete and hand in your ballot on site.

You can also take your completed mail-in or absentee ballot to the sixth floor of the county elections division building during normal business hours, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Beginning Wednesday, May 12, you can also return your ballot to the lobby of the elections division during certain hours:

  • May 12: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • May 13: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • May 14: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • May 15: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • May 16: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • May 17: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • May 18 (Election Day): 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

You can only return your own ballot, and you'll need to wear a mask or face covering while in the elections division building.

What form of identification do I need to vote?

If you are planning to vote at a polling place for the first time, you must show valid identification, like a driver’s license, U.S. passport or current utility bill. A complete list of the acceptable IDs is available on the state voter services website.

What is being done to make polling places safe from the coronavirus?

Poll workers are required to wear face coverings and gloves. There will be cleaning products, hand sanitizer and masks on premises for voters, if needed, and to allow for ongoing cleaning of surfaces. Plexiglass barriers will help protect check-in tables.

What races are on the ballot?

  • Mayor:
    • Incumbent Bill Peduto (D)
    • State Rep. Ed Gainey (D)
    • Retired police officer Tony Moreno (D)
    • Community organizer Mike Thompson (D)

There are also races for city council, school board, district judges, constables and other offices. A complete list of races and candidates is on the Allegheny County website.

This guide, published on April 2, was updated on April 27 with more information about how to return mail-in or absentee ballots.

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