One of the easiest ways you can help to determine the future direction of our country is by voting. This guide is designed to help you through every step of that process in preparation for the May 18, 2021 PA primary election, and the November 2, 2021 municipal election.
While this guide is geared toward students at Greater Allegheny, the advice and resources provided below are just as useful for students at any Penn State campus.
If you're unsure of how to proceed at any step in the registration or voting process, please don't hesitate to visit your campus library, or Ask a Librarian. For more information about the parties, the issues, and the democratic process, please visit our Voting and Elections guide.
In Pennsylvania, the deadline to register for the May 18 primary election is Monday, May 3. For the November 2 municipal election, the deadline is Monday, October 18. For more important dates for PA elections, go to https://www.votespa.com/About-Elections/Pages/Upcoming-Elections.aspx. The deadlines for all other states can be found at https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/state-elections/state-election-dates-deadlines.htm.
Check if you're registered
PA residents: Go to https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/pages/voterregistrationstatus.aspx and search for your voter status by your driver's license or PennDOT ID number, or by name and location. Using an ID number provides the most accurate results.
Non-PA residents: Go to https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/ and select your state from the menu, or google "check voter registration status" and your state.
PA residents: Go to https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/pages/VoterRegistrationApplication.aspx and complete the online registration form. If you have been issued a driver's license or PennDOT ID, you must enter the identification number from your card to use the online registration form.
Non-PA residents: Google "voter registration" and your state to view your registration options.
Locate your polling place
PA residents: If you're already registered, your polling place is provided when you confirm your registration status at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/pages/voterregistrationstatus.aspx. If your registration is still being processed, go to https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx and enter your address to find your polling place.
Non-PA residents: For most states, your polling place is provided when you confirm your registration status at https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/. If you're registration is still being processed, google "find polling place" and your state.
In previous years, college students who could not make it to their hometown polling place could apply for an absentee ballot. This year, any PA resident who wishes to vote by mail may do so!
Mail-in voting deadlines
In addition to a registration deadline, each state has a deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot, and another deadline for submitting your ballot. In Pennsylvania, mail-in ballot applications for the primary election must be received by your county elections office by 5 PM on Tuesday, May 11, and completed ballots must be postmarked (or received if you return it by hand) by 8 PM on Tuesday, May 18. For the municipal election, mail-in ballot applications are due by 5 PM on Tuesday, October 26, and completed ballots must be received by 8 PM on Tuesday, November 2. These deadlines do not leave a lot of time to receive an ballot in the mail, complete it, and mail it back to the elections office, so plan on applying for your absentee ballot well ahead of the deadlines if you can.
For other states' deadlines, go to https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/state-elections/state-election-dates-deadlines.htm.
Request an absentee or mail-in ballot
PA residents: For guidance on which type of ballot to request, how to apply, and the rest of the process for PA voters, go to https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx.
Non-PA residents: Google "vote by mail" and your state for information on how to apply for and complete your mail-in ballot.
Options for returning your mail-in ballot
PA residents can either mail their completed (and double-enveloped) ballots to their county's elections office or return it by hand. And many counties are providing drop boxes for submitting ballots. For drop box locations, go to https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/pages/drop-box.aspx.