Pennsylvania voter guide
Due to the coronavirus, all voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot rather than going to their polling place on Election Day. Mail-in ballot applications will be accepted through Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 5 p.m.
For understandable reasons, Pennsylvania’s June 2 primary elections may not be the first thing on your mind. We are, after all, living through a once-in-a-century pandemic that has hit the Keystone state particularly hard. As of Thursday, more than 65,000 residents had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and officials had documented 4,869 deaths statewide.
But the primary is just around the corner with several key races on the ballot, and it promises to be a historic day. Elections officials say 1.6 million Pennsylvanians have already filed applications to vote by mail next month.
In November, state lawmakers approved a makeover for the state’s elections systems, including expanding the option to vote by mail and extending the deadlines for voter registration and returning mail and absentee ballots. The state last updated its election code in 1937.
With the onset of the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers rescheduled the primary from March 27 to June 2, and made other changes in the process for voters as well as county election officials, such as allowing the consolidation of voting sites.
That’s why we’ve put together a handy-dandy election guide for you.
First things first, let’s get some basic questions out of the way.
How Do I Know If I’m Registered to Vote?
You can check your registration status here. If you’re not registered, you cannot vote in the June 2 election, as the deadline to register was Monday, May 18. But you can still register for future elections—hello, November is coming!—here.
Can I Vote By Mail?
Yes. Due to the coronavirus, all voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot rather than going to their polling place on Election Day.
How Do I Apply for a Vote-by-Mail Ballot?
You can apply here. Mail-in ballot applications will be accepted through Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 5 p.m. If you have already applied for a mail-in ballot, you do NOT need to reapply.
When Do I Have to Return My Ballot By?
Your mail-in ballot must be received—not postmarked, but received—by your county election office by 8:00 PM on June 2.
I Mailed In My Ballot But Haven’t Gotten Confirmation It Was Received.
You can check the status of your ballot here.
If I Want to Vote in Person, Where Do I Go?
You can find your polling place here. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. If you are in line to vote when polls close, you are entitled to vote. There will be no early voting for this election.
Is It Safe to Vote in Person?
Voting by Mail is the safest and preferred method for the June 2 election, but the Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS) has implemented social distancing and disinfecting guidelines for polling places. The DOS also ordered 6,000 infection-protection kits for polling places and will be distributing them to counties prior to the primary. These kits will include supplies such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other cleaning sanitizers, and tape to mark the floor for distance markers.
State officials are urging residents who are voting in person to take the same precautions they would take when entering any public space, including wearing a face mask and maintaining social distancing. But as several media outlets have reported, the state will not mandate the wearing of masks at polling locations. Gov. Tom Wolf has said that decisions about whether to allow voters who decline to cover their faces inside polling places would be left up to individual counties.
“The commonwealth is not doing anything to force anybody to do anything,” Wolf said at a press conference earlier this month, adding that wearing masks is “the right thing to do, and it’s a good thing to do to protect the people around us.”
The Pennsylvania Department of State did not respond to a request to confirm its mask policy for voting sites.
Do I Need to Show an ID if I’m Voting In-Person?
If you have voted at your polling location before, you do not need to bring an ID to vote. Only voters who are casting ballots for the first time in their election district need to show ID. Acceptable IDs for first-time voters include a driver’s license, U.S. passport, military, student, or employee ID, voter registration card, and firearm permit. The full list of acceptable IDs can be found here.
If you are a first-time voter and forgot to bring your ID, you will be offered a provisional ballot.
What if My Name Isn’t in the Poll Book?
If the county cannot find your name in their registration records, but you believe you are registered and were left out of the poll book, you can still vote using a provisional ballot.
What Is a Provisional Ballot?
A provisional ballot is a paper ballot given to voters who believe they are registered but whose names are not in the sign-in book at the polling place.
You can learn more about voting with a provisional ballot here.
What’s on the Primary Ballot This Year?
The ballot for the June 2 primary will include the following statewide races:
President of the United States
While it’s not technically official, it’s all but certain that President Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president, while Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee on the Democratic side. But both men will still appear on the primary ballot and disaffected Democrats could opt to cast a vote for Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard, who remain on the Democratic ballot, while anti-Trump Republicans could vote for one of Trump’s challengers, who’ve also dropped out.
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Incumbent AG Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary as he fights to retain his office as the state’s top law enforcement official. Republican Heather Heidelbaugh, a long-time trial lawyer, is also running unopposed, and will face off with Shapiro in November.
Pennsylvania Auditor General
Six Democrats are running in the party’s primary for Auditor General, a role responsible for overseeing and auditing state funds to ensure public funds are used properly. Those candidates are:
- Scott Conklin, a small business owner and former state representative
- Michael Lamb, the controller of the city of Pittsburgh since 2008
- Tracie Fountain, an accountant and former audit bureau director in the auditor general’s office
- Rosie Marie Davis, an accountant and the vice-chair of the Smithfield Township Board of Auditors
- Dr. Nina Ahmad, former deputy mayor for Public Engagement under Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney
- Christina Hartman, a former congressional candidate
On the Republican side, Dauphin County Controller Timothy DeFoor is running unopposed. DeFoor is also a former special investigator in the state’s inspector general office and former special agent in the AG’s office.
The state’s incumbent treasurer, Democrat Joe Torsella is running unopposed, as is his presumptive Republican opponent in November, military veteran Stacy Garrity. The winner will oversee and protect the state’s more than $120 billion in public funds.
Residents will also vote for primaries featuring congressional candidates, state representatives, state senators, local candidates, and delegates to the Democratic National Convention. For more information on those races, contact your county election office.
What if I Still Have a Question?
Find your County Election Officials here and reach out to them.
Residents in York City and Hanover Township wanted broadband expansion in their communities, but anti-5G conspiracy theorists have delayed the wifi...
US Sen. Bob Casey introduced legislation to combat a form of price gouging known as “shrinkflation.” This comes after months of raising the alarm on...
By MARC LEVY Associated Press HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies, civil defense officials and election administrators have begun...
From family-owned community staples like Urbaniak Brothers in Erie, to Central Pa. favorite Stauffers of Kissel Hill, to chains like Giant Eagle and...
According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the city of Pittsburgh is to blame for the collapse of the Forbes Avenue bridge...