It is hard to believe the November 6 general election is two short weeks away. If you are registered to vote, we encourage you to cast your ballot – whether in person or by absentee ballot. We cannot overstate how important it is for all eligible voters to exercise their fundamental constitutional right to express their will through the ballot box.
If you cannot make it to the polls on election day, you may be eligible to vote by absentee ballot. Check out the last Simply Stated blog post to learn more about the absentee voting process. But hurry - your county board of elections must receive your completed civilian absentee ballot by November 2 for your vote to count.
With the election fast approaching, today we will talk about the top five things you should know before you head to the polls.
1. When Must I Show ID?
The first time you vote in an election district you must bring a photo or non-photo ID. For a list of acceptable photo and non-photo IDs, visit votesPA.com.
2. Can I Vote Even If My Name Isn’t in the Poll Book?
Yes. The local officials at your polling place should first call the county board of elections to determine if you are registered and in the correct precinct. If you are registered, but in the wrong precinct, you will be directed to the correct precinct. You can search for your polling place at votesPA.com/pollingplace.
If the county board of elections cannot find your name in its voter registration database, or if you are unable to go to another precinct, you are entitled to use a provisional ballot to cast your vote. Voting in the wrong precinct, but in the correct county, may result in your ballot being only partially counted. Voting in the wrong county will lead to your ballot being rejected in full. Voting by provisional ballot should be your last resort.
You can find out after the election if your provisional ballot was counted, partially counted or rejected by visiting pavoterservices.pa.gov or by calling toll-free 1-877-868-3772 (1-877-VOTESPA). The information should be available at least seven days after the election.
3. When Do I Have the Right to Vote by Emergency Ballot?
When 50 percent or more of the voting machines at your polling place are not working, you have the right to vote by emergency paper ballot. Poll workers should immediately offer the ballots, but if they do not, you should request one. Do not leave without voting.
The paper ballots used as emergency ballots must be clearly identified and placed in an envelope marked “emergency ballot” and not in a provisional ballot envelope.
4. Do I Have the Right to Assistance When Voting?
You have the right to assistance at the polling place if you cannot read or write; cannot read the names on the ballot; have difficulty understanding English; or are blind, disabled, or unable to operate the voting machine.
You may select any person to assist you except your employer, union representative, or the Judge of Elections. Please note, you do not have to be designated in the poll book as “assistance permitted” to have help. If you are not so designated, you will be asked to sign an Assistance Declaration at the polling place.
5. Can I Bring My Cell Phone into the Voting Booth and Take Selfies?
We are happy you want to vote and inspire your friends and family to do so as well. Each county can set their own policy regarding electronic devices in the polling place. The counties that prohibit cell phones will have signs up informing voters about this rule.
If cell phones are allowed, you can take a selfie but you should take care to not disclose the selections of another voter. We recommend you wait until after you leave the polling place to post ballot selfies on social media.
Polling places in Pennsylvania are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day. As long as you are already in line to vote when the polls close, you can still cast your ballot.
See you at the polls!