First Time Voting
Registering To Vote
To vote in the United States of America, you must be registered to vote. Registering to vote is a quick and simple process of submitting information including your name, birth date, address, and declaring a political party if you so wish. You can register to vote in several ways including online or as a downloadable form to be mailed. You can also register to vote in person, at your county voter registration office, PennDOT office or certain other government agencies including:
State offices that provide public assistance and services to persons with disabilities
Armed Forces Recruitment Centers
County Clerk of Orphans’ Court offices, including each Marriage License Bureau
Area Agencies on Aging
Centers for Independent Living
County Mental Health and Intellectual Disability offices
Student disability services offices of the State System of Higher Education
Offices of Special Education
DA Complementary Paratransit offices
Any agency using the Compass application
Voting Requirements in Pennsylvania
To vote in Pennsylvania, you must meet the following requirements and be registered to vote:
A citizen of the United States for at least one month before the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.
A resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which you want to register and vote for at least 30 days before the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.Community Snapshot – November 2021
At least 18 years of age on or before the day of the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.
If you meet these requirements, and you are ready to register yourself, you will also need either a state driver’s license, or the last 4 digits of your social security number. If you do not have a Social Security Number, write none in the space provided for this number on your registration form.
Both the online and mail-in form to register to vote are available in Spanish and Traditional Chinese, with the mailable applications also being available in Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese. For more language services, and translation materials see the following resources within the Jefferson footprint: Casa San Jose, Global Wordsmiths, Latino Community Center, South Hills Interfaith Movement. You may also refer to our Jefferson Community Directory for additional resources.
Types of Elections
There are a few different types of elections. In a general election, Pennsylvanians vote for federal, state and local officials. In odd-numbered years, the November elections are also called municipal elections because there are no federal or state office on the ballot. Every four years the general election is also a presidential election.
In a primary election, each political party selects its candidate to run for office during the general election. The candidates who get the highest number of votes in the primary election go on to run in the general election. For primary elections in Pennsylvania, you can only vote for the candidates in the same political party you have named in your voter registration. So, if you are independent, you cannot vote in the primary election. Sometimes there are constitutional amendments, ballot questions, and special elections in which all registered voters are able to vote for these in the primary.
Pennsylvania holds special elections when someone in office can no longer serve, which can be because they have resigned, died, or been removed. Special elections can be held during a general or primary election, or on a different day designated by the election’s office.
In presidential elections, each political party holds a national convention where they choose their nominee for president. The results of the primary election determine how votes from Pennsylvania are cast at the convention. Then the nominees from each party run against each other in the general election in November.
The full Pennsylvania Elections Calendar is located online.
Finding District & Polling Places
Where you vote is determined based on the voting district you live in, according to your address. The Polling Place Search tool provides your Congress, State Senate and State House district numbers. These districts can sometimes change in a process referred to as redistricting. Remember to bring a form of identification with you if it is your first time going to a new polling place or first-time voting. Approved forms of photo identification include:
Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card
ID issued by any Commonwealth agency
ID issues by the U.S. Government
U.S. Armed Forces ID
If you do not have a photo ID, you can use a non-photo identification that includes your name and address:
Confirmation issued by the County Voter Registration Office
Non-photo ID issued by the commonwealth
Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government
Current utility bill
Current bank statement
Once you know your district, you can preview your ballot. You can look up a sample ballot, county by county as long as you have the ward. This information can be found on the county website. You will also need your district number. If you live in Allegheny County, you can search for your sample ballot here.
Researching the Candidates
Before you vote, research the candidates. You can learn more about a candidate’s voting records if they’ve held office before. Usually, you can find information on where candidates stand on key issues on their campaign website. You are also able to learn where candidates draw their money from for their campaign finances.
VIEW UPCOMING EVENTS
Ready to Join the Conversation?
View and register for our upcoming member meetings, action team meetings, capacity and skill development opportunities, and more on our events page. Please note that our events are limited to Collaborative Member Organizations and relevant Jefferson-based community partners, unless otherwise specified. If you have a question about attending an event, please don’t hesitate to contact us.