Voters’ Rights in Effect at the Polling Places on Election Days
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 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.
YES, YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO VOTE BY MAIL
Any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot. You do not have to provide a reason for requesting one. It’s your choice whether to vote in-person or vote by mail.
Apply online here (http://votespa.com/ApplyMailBallot), by mail, or in-person at your county election office. Importantly, the application must be received before 5:00pm on the Tuesday before the election.
Your ballot must be returned to your County Election Office by 8:00pm on election day for your vote to be counted.
For more information: http://votespa.com/ApplyMailBallot
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.
No, unless: it’s your first time voting in your current district. List of acceptable forms of Photo ID: 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. Your ID must be valid and not expired. Qualifying 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.
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.
Yes, your 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 insider or outside of polling locations.
It is illegal under Pennsylvania law to use any means to intimidate or attempt to intimidate voters either insider 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 poll. 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.
If they help you choose who to vote for then yes, but you cannot leave them behind.
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;
- poll watchers with valid watcher certificates; and
- duly appointed overseers.
Police officers are only allowed at a poll 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 poll.
Your right to vote can be challenged, but only on the basis of identity or place of residence. If you can get a person to vouch for you, you are able to vote on the machine. Even if challenged, and you cannot find someone to vouch for you, you can still vote using a provisional ballot.