October 24, 2022
Last day to register to vote before the November 8 election
November 1, 2022
Last day to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot
November 8, 2022
Election day - polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; by 8 p.m. mailed ballots must be received at county election offices or at other officially designated sites
NOTE: Sign up for the Pennsylvania Department of State's free election email for updates, information, and news!
How to Vote, Step #1: Are You Eligible?
You are eligible if:
you have been a U.S. citizen for at least one month
you have resided at your current address at least 30 days
you are 18 or older on election day (Tuesday, November 8)
you are not serving time for a felony
How to Vote, Step #2: Register
When you register to vote it means you have been added to your county's list of eligible voters (counties manage elections). To register you must first fill out and submit a form that is then reviewed by your county officials. Once you are approved you will receive a voter registration card in the mail.
A question on the voter registration form is do you also want to register as a member of a specific political party. Doing so allows you to vote in that party's primary election. In Pennsylvania primaries are held in May. The purpose of a primary is for political party members to select the candidate who will represent their party in the general election held in November. General elections are when voters select officials for federal, state, and local offices. In even numbered years candidates are on the ballot for federal, state, and local offices. In years when the president is being elected the general election is also known as the presidential election. In odd numbered years only local officials are elected the general election is also known as the municipal election.
Think you're registered but aren't sure? It's easy to check!
How to Vote, Step #3: Vote In Person, by Mail, or Early In-Person?
If you want to vote in person in your neighborhood on election day, you need to know where your polling place is. Your polling place is where you go to vote, and is assigned based on your address. Polling places in Pennsylvania are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day. If it's your first time voting at your polling place, you will need to provide an approved form of identification.
To vote by mail you need to apply for a ballot by 5 p.m. on November 1. A ballot is a list of candidates voters mark to indicate their choices. There are two types of mailable ballots, mail-in and absentee. Mail-in ballots can be requested by any registered voter, without any reason given. Absentee ballots are requested by those who will be away on election day, or who cannot go to their polling place because of illness or disability. After applying for your ballot you can easily check your election ballot status.
Another option is to vote early in-person by visiting your county election board's office or other official site. During this visit you can request and receive a ballot, and then vote and turn the ballot in.
How to Vote, Step #4: Vote!
If you are voting in person in your neighborhood on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8, you must go to your polling place. Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Scroll down to "How do I vote and return my mail-in or absentee ballot?" on this PA Department of State page to see step-by-step instructions for completing your mailable ballot.
If you are using a mail-in or absentee ballot it can be returned in several ways:
- mail it back (note that it must be received by your county's election officials by 8 p.m. on Election Day)
- take it to your county election board office or satellite sites
- put it in a dropbox in your county, starting from the date your county sets to 8 p.m. on Election Day (note that you can return only your own ballot):
If you opted for a mail-in ballot but decide you want to vote in-person at your polling place on Election Day, you may do so if:
- you haven't returned your mail-in ballot AND
- you bring your mail-in ballot with you to your polling place
Help Other Voters - Work at the Polls
Lots of people think their vote doesn't matter, and that their lives won't be affected by who wins an election. But thinking this way ignores some important facts.
First is that your elected officials are the ones who pass laws on major issues you probably care about. Your vote gives you a say in just what laws are likely to be passed.
Second is that government at every level - local, state, and federal - has a BIG impact on your day-to-day quality of life. Consider:
Pennsylvania local governments (counties and municipalities) may be responsible for:
- trash, water, and sewer services
- local parks and libraries
- local road maintenance
- enforcement of local regulations and codes
- local police and courts
- property assessments
- local taxes
For detailed information on our state's local governments, see the Citizen's Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government.
Pennsylvania state government is responsible for:
- K-12 education
- state road maintenance
- state parks
- regulation of businesses
- state laws, police, and courts
- social services
- state taxes
- motor vehicle regulation
To learn more about how our state government works take a look at The Pennsylvania Manual.
The United States federal government is responsible for:
- funding to states for education, healthcare, and more
- Social Security and Medicare
- national laws
- national courts (including the Supreme Court)
- international relations
- national defense
Vote Smart's "Government 101" is a great way to learn more about how our federal government works. "Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government" gives young and old alike a straightforward introduction to the federal government.