Vote Today: How to Participate in the PA Primaries

What you need to know to vote in the Pennsylvania primary elections

Lauren DeMascolo, Staff Writer

Today, May 17,  polls all over the Commonwealth open at 7 a.m.,  giving registered voters in Pennsylvania the opportunity to vote for their political party’s candidates to run for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, and a state senate seat this upcoming November in the general election.

Even if you haven’t taken your nose out of a book for months,  you likely are aware how heated the current political and social climate is. A certain excitement exists in anticipation of a General Election come November, but the same attention is seldom – if ever – given to primary elections. But, with the recent news that women’s reproductive rights are back on the chopping block, and extremist candidates trying to snag competitive seats and vowing to restrict reproductive rights and legislation that protects voting rights, the primaries have become more vital than ever.

Why primaries matter

In the new legislative maps, only 15% of the seats are considered competitive, according to nonpartisan analysis. That means most districts have one party with a strong majority. So whichever candidate wins the primary of the dominant party is all but guaranteed to win the General Election in November.

Primary elections are state-level and local-level elections; voters elect a candidate to be a political party’s nominee for a given office in the corresponding general election, as well as convention delegates, party leaders, and sometimes state referendums. PA is one of 12 closed primary states; meaning voters must be registered in the same party affiliated with the primary in which they are voting. If you are an unaffiliated/independent voter, you will not be permitted to vote in partisan primary elections, (the Democratic primary, the Republican primary).  Depending on where you live, you may be voting in municipality positions, city council, and/or ordinances. It is too late to register to vote or change affiliation, as the deadline is May 2nd. But, to check your registration, click here.

College Students

You have the right to register and vote where you live while attending college in Pennsylvania. You can use either an on-campus or off-campus address.

You can register and vote where you live while attending college in PA or at your prior home address, provided your family or guardian still reside there.

You can only be registered in one place at a time.

You can vote by mail, as long as you have requested a mail-in ballot by the deadline (which has passed for the PA Primaries, but not for the upcoming general election).

Learning abroad? You can still vote even if you are learning abroad during election day, click here to learn how.

Do you know where your polling place is? Click here to find it.

TIP: Take a photo ID to vote in person only if you’re at a polling place for the first time.

Do you already have a mail-in ballot? It is too late send it by mail if you haven’t already so consider hand delivering it to your county Board of Elections. The ballot must arrive at a county election office by 8 p.m. Election Day. Click here for more information about mail-in ballots and find your county board of elections office.

While the deadline to apply for absentee and mail-in ballots has surpassed for the primaries, there is time to do so for the general election. You can apply online by clicking here.

Still undecided? Read about all the candidates running for their party’s nomination for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, and PA State Senate here.  Then, don’t forget to do your civic duty and VOTE! Stay tuned to HawkEye Media for election coverage and updates.