Voter Registration Information
Important Dates - Links - Resources
Voting is the most fundamental of our civic rights as Americans. We must vote in order for our voices to be heard in Harrisburg and Washington. Please see the links below to complete and submit voter registration and find your polling place.
April 13, 2020 Last day to register to vote in the primary election
October 19, 2020 Last day to register to vote before the November Election
April 21, 2020 Last day to apply for an absentee ballot
November 3, 2020 last day for County Boards of Elections to receive voted civilian absentee ballots
November 3, 2020 General Election
From the votesforpa.com website - the following people may vote by absentee ballot if they are registered to vote:
- A person with an illness or physical disability who is unable to go to the polling place or to operate a voting machine and obtain assistance by distinct and audible statements. (Note: A voter with a disability may have permanent absentee voter status.)
- A person who will not go to a polling place on Election Day because of the observance of a religious holiday.
- A spouse or dependent residing with or accompanying a person in the military service of the United States.
- A member of the Merchant Marine and their spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying them.
- A member of a religious or welfare group attached to and serving with the armed forces and their spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying them.
- A spouse or dependent accompanying a person employed by the Commonwealth or the federal government, whose duties, occupation or business on Election Day require them to be away from the Commonwealth or their municipality of residence.
- An individual, and their spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying them, with duties, occupation or business (including leaves of absence for teaching, vacations and sabbatical leaves) away from their official residence on Election Day.
- A county employee who expects that their Election Day duties relating to the conduct of the election will prevent them from voting.
You may be able to vote with an absentee ballot even if you did not register to vote before an election.
- A person who is or may be in the military service of the United States. They can be in Pennsylvania on Election Day or not. Voters in the military do not have to register before Election Day.
- A qualified war veteran who is bedridden or hospitalized due to illness or physical disability if they are absent from the municipality where they live and unable to attend his/her polling place because of such illness or disability.
Obstacles to Voting and Recommendations
Voting for political representatives is fundamental to our identity as Americans. It is so vitally important that no fewer than five out of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution deal with voting. Who can vote, where they can vote, how they can vote, and more are all issues that have marched, or in some cases trudged, through the courts to ensure fair and equitable treatment under the law.
However, just because there is a law or an Amendment on the books, doesn’t mean that voting by individuals with disabilities is always fair or equitable.
Inaccessibility, lack of accommodations, lack of training for staff, all of this and more can conspire to challenge the rights of every eligible individual with disability to vote. Because of this, voting in primary and general elections by individuals with disabilities has been declining slowly but steadily over the past several election cycles, according to a 2017 survey by the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations.
What can we do? How can we, as a group and as individuals, ensure that our rights are recognized during a time as chaotic as Election Day?
Permanent Absentee Ballot
Those with permanent disabilities may qualify for a permanent absentee ballot. Individuals using such a system would receive an absentee or alternative ballot for each election. These are sent out prior to Election Day and mailed back into the county’s election bureau.
Accessible Voting System
According to state’s VotesPA website (run by the state government), every polling place in Pennsylvania must have at least one accessible voting system. Sometimes this is the general voting system used by all voters. It may be a separate system with features such as audio, tactile keys and other assistive technology.
Assistance when Voting
Again from VotesPA, in some cases, a polling place may not be accessible for those with disabilities. If a polling place is not accessible, you may bring a person of your choice to assist you in the voting process. There are a few restrictions on who to bring, including that you may not choose a person who is:
- A Judge of Elections
- Your Union Representative
- Your Employer
The first time you use assistance, the election officials at your polling place will ask you to complete and sign a form, the Declaration of Need of Assistance. After the first time, your registration record will note your request for assistance.
There are other resources that individuals with disabilities can turn to if they experience difficulties in the voting place. AIM keeps a variety of information available on our website at www.abilitiesinmotion.org/voter-registration-information. Help during Election Day can be found at the Disability Voting Coalition of Pennsylvania’s Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OURVOTE (1-866-687-8683).