The current impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is an ever-present reminder of the controversy surrounding last November’s election. Pennsylvania voters found themselves at the center of that controversy, with claims and counterclaims over the legitimacy of the voting process.
Add in the COVID-19 pandemic, which will still be a public health problem this spring, and it’s understandable if some Keystone State voters feel gun shy about the process. Many will likely choose to vote by mail or absentee, given the ongoing pandemic.
But whether it’s at the post office or your local polling station, here are a few things to keep in mind for the upcoming elections on May 18:
— You have to be registered by May 3 in any of the five Delaware Valley counties to vote in that primary. The general election is on November 2. Because Pennsylvania has closed primaries, voters who choose Democrat or Republican can only vote for candidates from their own party, or in non-partisan contests.
— If you are voting by mail, your ballot application needs to be received by the county by May 11. This means everyone who plans to vote by mail, even if you elected to do so going forward every year, needs to re-apply. “Any resident who wants to vote by mail will need to apply again this year, even if you voted by mail in 2020,” said Kenneth Lawrence, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Elections besides being a county commissioner.
— Double-check that the registration is correct. If you moved, switched parties, married or divorced (and changed your last name in the process), everything still works as it should when it comes time casting your ballot. As we know, Pennsylvania was on the receiving end of a few lawsuits regarding votes in 2020, and the clearer the process, the better.
“We encourage everyone to check their voter registration before May 3 to make sure their information is up to date,” advises Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh. “We know that residents may still want to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Rest assured, whether you choose to vote by mail or in person, your vote will be counted.”
If you live in Montgomery County:
Registered county voters can apply for the mail-in ballot online or download and print a paper application via the county website: www.montcopa.org/VoteByMail to get the ball rolling for 2021. Information on voting in the county is at [email protected]. You can also call the office at (610) 278-3280.
If you live in Bucks County:
Go to [email protected] for information on open polling places, to register to vote, apply for an absentee ballot, and much more. If you’d rather talk to a person, call the Board of Elections from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at (215) 348-6154.
If you live in Delaware County:
To register, head to the Delaware County website: delcopa.gov. Contact Voter Registration via email at [email protected]. Phone is (610) 891-4659.
If you live in Chester County:
Go to chesco.org and under “Voter Services” you can find a sample ballot, download an application for a mail-in ballot, check on important dates for the upcoming year, and find polling places. Voter Services can be reached at (610) 344-6410.
If you live in Philadelphia County:
Go online to Philadelphiavotes.com for information on polling places, sample ballots, candidates, to check your registration, and to apply for a mail-in ballot. If you’d rather speak to a person, call (215) 686-3469 for the Board of Elections or (215) 686-1591 for Voter Registration.