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 April 28, 2020 PA primary election, and the November 3, 2020 general 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 April 28 primary election is Monday, April 13. For the November 3 general election, the deadline is Monday, October 19. 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.
If you live on campus and will not be able to visit your polling place, you can apply for an absentee ballot. In most states, your status as a college student will serve as your reason for requesting an absentee ballot.
Absentee voting deadlines
In addition to a registration deadline, each state has a deadline to apply for an absentee ballot, and another deadline for submitting your ballot. In Pennsylvania, absentee ballot applications for the primary election must be received by your county elections office by 5 PM on Tuesday, April 21, and completed ballots must be received by the same office by 8 PM on Tuesday, April 28. For the general election, absentee ballot applications are due by 5 PM on Tuesday, October 27, and completed ballots must be received by 8 PM on Tuesday, November 3. These deadlines do not leave a lot of time to receive an absentee 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 ballot
PA residents: Download an absentee ballot application form at https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Voting-by-Absentee-Ballot.aspx, fill out the first two sections (your reason for absence can be "college student living away from home"), and mail the completed application to the elections office in the county where you are registered. To find the address of your country's elections office, go to https://www.votespa.com/Resources/Pages/Contact-Your-Election-Officials.aspx.
Non-PA residents: Google "vote by mail" and your state for information on how to apply for and complete your absentee ballot.