Voters’ Rights in Effect at the Polling Places on Election Days

People Voting In Booths

As American citizens, voting is our most important civic duty. Our democracy depends on all of us being informed and active voters. Here at the Office of Attorney General, we want to make sure that your voting experience goes smoothly and that you don’t run into – or cause – any issues at the polls. That’s why we’ve created guides for voters so that you can understand your rights, your responsibilities, and how to get help with any problems that may come up on election day.

You must vote at the polling place in the precinct in which you are registered. To find out where your polling place is, please visit the Department of State’s website.

You cannot vote at just any polling place. You must be at the polling place where you are registered to vote. To find your polling place, please visit the Department of State’s website. If you are at the wrong polling place, you must go to the correct one in order to vote.

In Pennsylvania, any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot. Voting by mail is safe, secure, and a convenient way for Pennsylvanians to exercise their right to vote.

To vote by mail, request your mail-in ballot online here, or in-person at your county election office. Applications for mail-in ballots must be received before 5 p.m. the Tuesday before the election.

Voters choosing to vote by mail should return their completed ballots as soon as possible to ensure that their ballot is timely received. Mail-in ballots must be received by the county board of elections before 8 p.m. on Election Day in order for the vote to be counted. Voters can track the status of their mail-in ballot online here.

As of September 19, 2023, any Pennsylvania resident that obtains a new or renewed driver license or PennDOT ID card and is otherwise eligible to vote will be automatically registered to vote in Pennsylvania unless they opt out.

Otherwise, in order to vote in Pennsylvania, you must register at least 15 days before the election. April 8, 2024 is the last day to register before the April 23, 2024 primary election. October 21, 2024 is the last day to register before the November 5, 2024 General Election.

To check the status of your voter registration, and for information about your designated polling location, please visit the PA Department of State website here.

Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and remain open until 8:00 p.m. As long as you are in the physical line to vote at your polling location by 8:00 p.m., you have the right to vote even if you do not end up casting your vote until after 8:00 p.m.

In Pennsylvania, only first-time voters or those voting for the first time in a new precinct must show photo or non-photo ID. If you do not have ID, you can return later with ID or otherwise vote provisionally. Eligible voters that are denied access to the polls because of lack of ID should contact their county board of elections.

Your photo ID must be valid and not expired. Acceptable forms of photo ID include: PA driver’s license or PennDOT ID card; ID issued by any Commonwealth agency; ID issued by the U.S. Government; U.S. passport; U.S. Armed Forces ID; Student ID; Employer ID. Acceptable non-photo IDs include: a non-photo ID issued by state or federal government; a current utility bill; a firearm permit; a current bank statement; a current paycheck; or a current government check. Your non-photo ID must include your name and current address.

As a voter, you have the right to have someone help you cast your ballot if:

  • if a disability prevents or impairs you from operating the voting machine;
  • a language barrier impedes your ability to understand the ballot; or
  • you have difficulty reading and need literacy assistance.

You can choose any person to assist you as long as the person providing assistance is not your employer (or their agent), your union representative (or their agent), or the Judge of Elections.

Voters requiring assistance to vote due to a disability may bring a person of their choice to assist in the voting process. However, the chosen person may not be:

  • a judge of elections,
  • the voter’s union representative, or
  • the voter’s employer

When you go to your polling place to vote but your name does not appear in the poll book or the supplemental poll book list, you can still vote. The local officials must first call your County Board of Elections to confirm your registration. The Board of Elections should determine whether you are in fact registered and in the right precinct.

You must go to your correct polling place to vote. However, if you insist you are eligible to vote at that polling place, you may vote a provisional ballot.

Voter Registration Status:

Find Your Polling Place:

Yes, the poll workers must provide emergency paper ballots.


Yes, BUT, you should be careful to not disclose any other voter’s ballot and it is recommended that you wait until after you leave the polling place to post photos of your ballot selfie.


Even if you are lawfully in possession of a firearm and possess the proper permits, you may not be allowed to enter your polling place with your firearm. Firearms cannot be brought into polling places which are located in one of the following locations:

  • inside a private property forbidding them;
  • a school;
  • a courthouse; or
  • any other location where Pennsylvania law prohibits the carrying of firearms.

Even if you are permitted to possess your firearm at the polls, you must be responsible with it. If an individual acts aggressively or ostentatiously displays the firearm, and such behavior is either intended to or inadvertently intimidates another voter or voters, that individual will be removed from the polling place and reported to law enforcement authorities.  It is illegal to use any means to attempt to intimidate any voters either inside or outside of polling locations.

It is illegal under Pennsylvania law to use any means to intimidate or attempt to intimidate voters either inside or outside of polling locations. Intimidating behavior can include words or actions. Further, it is illegal for anyone to block or attempt to block, by any means, the entrance to the polls. Intimidating behavior should be reported immediately to your County Board of Elections.

Please call or visit the PA Department of State to report voter intimidation, election fraud, or other election crimes: 1-877-VOTESPA  (1-877-868-3772) OR click here to submit complaints online.

If you feel unsafe you should call 911 immediately.

Yes, as long as you are not an election official or poll watcher.

Only certain individuals are allowed inside the polling place while the polls are open.  Specifically, they are:

  • Election Officials (the Judge of Elections, the Inspectors of Election, appointed clerks and voting machine operators);
  • voters who are in the process of voting;
  • people who are lawfully providing assistance to qualified voters;
  • constables and deputy constables tasked with preserving the peace;
  • polls watchers with valid watcher certificates; and
  • duly appointed overseers.

Police officers are only allowed at polls if they are personally voting, the polling place is located in the same building as the police station, or if they have been officially summoned to address a situation at the polls.

Campaign workers cannot engage in electioneering inside polling place or within ten feet of entrance to polling place.

Identity and residency are the only permissible bases for challenging a voter at a polling place. A voter whose identity or residency is being challenged may vote normally by signing a challenge affidavit and producing a witness who is also a registered voter in the precinct to vouch for them. If the voter cannot or does not want to produce a witness, the voter may cast a provisional ballot.

Visit the Department of State for useful poll watcher information:

Some counties may offer drop boxes, click here to find drop box locations.

Voters that have already submitted a completed mail-in or absentee ballot may not vote again in-person on Election Day. However, voters that requested a mail-in or absentee ballot, but did not yet complete and submit their ballot, that wish to vote in-person instead, must surrender their mail-in or absentee ballot and its pre-addressed outer return envelope to their county board of election to be voided. After surrendering the unused mail-in or absentee ballot, voters must sign a declaration in order to be permitted to vote a regular ballot in-person. If a voter does not surrender their uncompleted mail-in or absentee ballot, they may only be permitted to vote by provisional ballot, after which the county board of election will verify that the voter did not already vote by mail before counting the provisional ballot.

Voters choosing to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot must remember to sign and date the voter declaration on the outer return envelope before returning their ballot. Failure to properly sign and date the outer return envelope could result in a ballot being rejected. Voters may contact their county board of elections if they have any concerns about casting their mail-in or absentee ballot.

Voting by mail-in or absentee ballot requires the use of two envelopes: a pre-addressed outer return envelope and a smaller secrecy envelope bearing the words “Official Election Ballot.” Failure to use the secrecy envelope will result in your ballot not being counted. Do NOT write or draw on the secrecy envelope.

First, place your completed ballot inside the secrecy envelope and seal it. Next, place the sealed secrecy envelope containing your ballot into the pre-addressed outer return envelope and seal it. Make sure to sign and date the voter declaration on the outer return envelope, or your ballot may not be counted. Now your ballot is ready to be returned either via USPS or hand delivered to your county’s designated ballot drop-off location. Your ballot must be received by the county board of elections before 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Pennsylvania law does not require counties to allow voters to cure or correct mistakes on mail-in or absentee ballots. However, some counties in Pennsylvania choose to allow voters to cure ballot defects. Voters should contact their county board of elections if they have questions about curing a defect with their ballot.

The laws of Pennsylvania generally prohibit law enforcement officers, whether in uniform or in citizens’ clothes, from being within 100 feet of a polling place during voting hours, unless they are exercising their right to vote, are in a nearby police station, or have been summoned by election administrators to respond to a disturbance. Please call or visit the PA Department of State to report voter intimidation, election fraud, or other election crimes: 1-877-VOTESPA. If you feel unsafe you should call 911 immediately.