The Republican and Democrat primaries in Pennsylvania aren’t happening until April 26, but the deadline to register is today, Monday, March 28. Here’s everything you need to know about how to vote in the Pennsylvania primary, including who’s eligible to vote, all the appropriate deadlines, how to find the right polling place, and who is on the ballot.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Who’s Eligible in Which Primary?
The rules about who is eligible to vote and in which primary can get a little confusing. Pennsylvania is a closed primary state. This means that you can only vote in the party primary for which you’re registered. In other words, if you’re voter registration is Democrat, then you can only vote in the Democratic party. In Pennsylvania, there will be two primary elections on April 26: Democratic and Republican.
If you can’t make it to the polls on April 26, you may be able to vote via absentee ballot. (See the full requirements here.)
The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is April 19 at 5 p.m. You can download and print an absentee ballot application here. To apply for an absentee ballot, you’ll need your drivers license number, last four digits of your Social Security, or a copy of an acceptable photo ID. You can find out more information about absentee voting here. After you’ve filled out the application, you’ll need to mail it or deliver it to your county election office.
You must turn in your absentee ballot by April 22 in order for it to count for the primary election.
If you’re a college student in Pennsylvania, even if you’re from out of state, you can still register to vote in Pennsylvania, as long as you register by today’s deadline.
2. When Is the Deadline to Register?
Some states allow same-day registration and others require you to register months in advance of the primary. In Pennsylvania, the deadline to register to vote is today, Monday, March 28.
You can register to vote online here, in person at your county voter registration office, or by mail to your county voter registration office (as long as it is postmarked by March 28.) You can download a blank voter registration form to mail or drop off in person here.
For some reason, the site for registering to vote online currently reads: “The last day to register before the 2016 GENERAL PRIMARY was 03/28/2016. Any application submitted now until 04/26/2016 will be held and processed the day after the 2016 GENERAL PRIMARY. If you are registering for the first time and are not already registered to vote, you will not be able to vote in the 2016 GENERAL PRIMARY.” However, today is March 28 and is supposed to be the final day for registration. We’re not certain why the “deadline is over” banner is on the website at the time of publication.
3. When Is the Deadline to Change Your Party Registration?
What if you were previously registered as an Independent and now you want to vote Republican? How long do you have to change parties in the Pennsylvania primary? The deadline for changing your party affiliation, address, or name is also the same as the deadline for registering to vote. You must change your party affiliation by today, March 28. You can change it on the same online form that you use to register to vote, which is here.
In fact, you probably should double check your status even if you think you know what it is. Some voters in Pennsylvania who were able to vote in their party’s primary in previous elections have reported that they are no longer registered with their party or their voter registration was changed to inactive.
4. How to Find the Right Polling Place
When you’re voting in the primary, you’ll have to make sure that you’re voting in the right location. You can find out which polling place you should vote at by visiting this website and filling in your name, county, and date of birth. Although the form is labeled “Find Voter Registration Status,” it will also tell you which polling address you should vote at on April 26.
You can also visit this link to find your polling location.
5. Who’s on the Ballot & Who’s Still in the Race?
Sometimes candidates who dropped out of the race may still actually be on the ballot. Here’s who you can expect to see on the ballot in Pennsylvania.
For the Democratic party, you’ll see Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Rocky De La Fuente. (Note: Some sources also say that Willie Wilson will be on the Pennsylvania Democratic ticket, but other sources don’t list him.)
On the Republican ticket, you’ll see Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump. But remember, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio have withdrawn from running for president; they are no longer in the race.
Pennsylvania is the third-largest state left to vote, behind California and New York. Democrats have a total of 210 delegates. This includes 189 pledged delegates, who vote based on the proportion of the popular vote that each candidate gets in their districts, and 21 superdelegates who can vote for whoever they want in the Democratic primary.
Republicans have 71 total delegates from Pennsylvania, but the delegates get a little tricky. Fifty-four of the delegates, who are elected during the primary, are uncommitted and can vote for whomever they want during the Republican convention. This leaves only 17 who must vote according to the results of the primaries. But of these, even the 14 at-large delegates only have to vote for the state’s winner on the first ballot at the national convention.