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May 11, 2022

Pennsylvania primary 2022: A guide to voting in Tuesday's election

Here's when polls open and close, where to find your polling location and how to complete a mail-in ballot

2022 Election Primary
Pennsylvania Primary 2022 Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

During the 2022 Pennsylvania primary election, Democrats and Republicans will decide their respective parties' nominee for governor, U.S. Senator and other offices. This photo shows voting machines inside a polling precinct in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania voters will head to the polls Tuesday to participate in the 2022 primary election. 

The election will determine the Democratic and Republican nominees for November's general election for multiple races, depending where you live. The highest profile Pennsylvania elections are for governor and U.S. Senator. 

Here's the rundown on what to expect on your ballot, when you can head to the polls and how to submit a mail-in ballot. 

What's on the ballot?

Pennsylvania has a closed primary, so residents only can vote in the races involving their party affiliations. 

Registered Democrats and Republicans will be voting to determine their respective parties' nominees for Pennsylvania governor and lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, U.S. representative and Pennsylvania House and Senate seats.

Some municipalities, including Philadelphia, will ask voters to decide ballot questions. Philadelphia also will be holding a special election to fill the District 6 City Council seat vacated by Bobby Henon after he was convicted on federal corruption charges. District 6 represents Philadelphia's river wards and part of the lower Northeast.

Voters who want to preview their ballots can use this online tool created by the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan voter advocacy group.

Some voters may notice that their political districts have changed since the last election. The state redrew the lines for its Congressional, state Senate and state House seats as part of the redistricting process that follows the release of the latest U.S. Census. Voters can see whether they have been affected on this online tool from Spotlight PA. 

When do the polls open and close? How can I find out where I'm supposed to vote?

Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone who is in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. 

Voters can locate their polling places on the Department of State's website.

Can I vote by mail? How?

Pennsylvania voters can still submit their ballots by mail in this election, but the deadline has passed to request a mail-in ballot for the primary election. 

Mail-in ballots must be received by county election offices before 8 p.m. Tuesday. Voters must consider the time it will take for their ballots to be delivered; postmarks do not count. Ballots that do not arrive prior to the deadline will not be counted. At the point, voters using mail-in ballots who have not submitted them yet should plan to drop them off in person. There are locations where mail-in ballots can be submitted in person. Continue reading to the next section for more information.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order earlier this month that said mail-in voting can be carried out amid a legal challenge. The justices must still decide whether to uphold or overturn a Commonwealth Court ruling that found the 2019 law that legalized no-excuse, mail-in voting is constitutional. 

How do I drop off a mail-in ballot?

Pennsylvania residents can drop off their mail-in or absentee ballots to their county election board offices, drop boxes and satellite county election offices. Voters can locate these drop-off sites using Pennsylvania's voting website, which links the voting offices in each county.

In Philadelphia, there's more information for voters, about the primary election and mail-in ballots on the Office of City Commissioners' website, and the city has created a map showing of the locations of Philly's mail-in dropboxes and mobile mail-in ballot collection setups.

Most voters are be required to drop off their own ballots. The only exceptions are for people with disabilities, who have the right to designate someone to deliver it for them, and people who need an emergency absentee ballot

To designate someone, a person must fill out this form and include it with the ballot. 

How do I properly fill out my mail-in ballot?

Make sure to read the instructions carefully and to complete the front and back of each page. 

After filling out your ballot, place it in the inner secrecy envelope labeled "official election ballot." Do not make any marks on this envelope. 

Next, put your ballot into the pre-addressed return envelope. Make sure to sign and date this envelope. Otherwise, your vote won't be counted.

More details can be found on the Department of State's website.

How do I vote absentee? Do I still have time to request an absentee ballot?

The process for voting absentee is similar to the process for voting via mail. The main difference is that absentee voters need to provide a reason they can't vote in person and mail-in voters do not.

It's too late to request an absentee ballot for the primary election, but they still can be returned under the same rules that apply to mail-in ballots.

Voters who wish to request an absentee ballot ahead of the Nov. 8 general election must do so by Nov. 1. They can apply for absentee ballots online or download the application and mail it to their county election board offices.

Can I still register to vote or change my party affiliation?

No. It's too late to do either for the primary election. In Pennsylvania, residents must register to vote or make changes to their party affiliations at least 15 days prior to an election. 

People who want to register to vote ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, or change their party affiliation, must do so by Oct. 24. 

People who aren't sure whether they're registered to vote can check their statuses online