With with election only days away, Pennsylvania voters may have some last minute questions about what to expect when they go to cast their ballot on Tuesday. For registered voters who have voted in a past elections, the trip to the polls may be business as usual. For new voters who may be voting for the first time, this may bring a whole host of questions. Is there a deadline to register? Who is eligible? Where does one go to vote? How do voters cast a ballot? Do voters need to show photo ID? What if an emergency arises and one cannot get out to vote? What if a voter’s name is not listed in the poll book? Do voters have any rights?
New this election year is the Pennsylvania Voter ID law which states that while registered voters are not required to show a photo ID at the polls, they will be asked to voluntarily provide proof that they are the same person listed in the poll book. VotesPA.com lists on their website http://www.votespa.com/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1174114&parentname=ObjMgr&parentid=4&mode=2 all the information about the PA Voter ID law including what forms of photo ID are considered acceptable such as a state-issued Pennsylvania Driver’s Licence, state-issued Pennsylvania non-driver photo ID, valid U.S. passport, U.S. military ID, government employee photo ID or other forms of identification that the Department of State determined to be acceptable. The new law does apply to new voters who must show one of the forms of photo identification to vote. The photo ID must be current and must also show an expiration date. The good news is that if a voter does not have a photo ID for Tuesday, they can go to PennDOT driver’s license center and receive one free of charge to use for voting purposes only.
Outside of the Voter ID law, not much else has changed for Pennsylvania voters. For anyone new to voting, this will be an entirely new experience but certainly not one that should be overwhelming. Seasoned poll workers are there to help voters answer questions they may have about how the machines work. Some people who voted in the past four years may recall that certain counties now use automated voting machines making it easier to cast a ballot compared to the old school designs where one had to pull the little metal levers. For those who want to learn all about the voting machines before the big day, there are places to go online to view a voting machine to familiarize themselves with this ahead of time. The Department of State has information readily available at http://www.votespa.com/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1174145&parentname=ObjMgr&parentid=4&mode=2 giving voters an overview of the different machines. Simply click the county where one is registered to vote and a picture of a typical machine used in that county will appear along with the option of seeing a video demonstration.
With the election only being two days away, sadly enough, the deadline has since passed to register to vote on November 6th. Interested voters would have had to submit their registration form by October 9th to vote on Tuesday. VotesPA.com has a plethora of information for eligible voters who missed the registration deadline but still want to register for future elections. Prospective voters who either are not eligible this election but will be for one of the next elections can also find all the information needed to register to vote. Forms can be downloaded online and mailed to the local county registration office. VotesPA.com has all the information on their website to register. There is also a wealth of information found on the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania’s website as well with links to register to vote. http://www.palwv.org/Voting/Voter-Info.asp Before attempting to register, make sure to determine if eligibility requirements have been met. Basically to be eligible to vote in PA, one must be a U.S. Citizen, must be at least 18 years old, must live in Pennsylvania and be a resident in the their county election district for at least 30 days before the election. And as a new voter, they must show an approved photo ID. That is it! Pennsylvania has made it that easy to register!
All ready to vote on Tuesday? Have any last minute concerns? College students and those serving in the military do not need to miss out on voting simply because they are not available to vote. Providing the paperwork was processed early enough, college students and military can vote by absentee ballot. Applications for absentee ballots were due one week before election day. http://www.votespa.com/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1174088&parentnam… There are also alternative ballots for older adults and people with disabilities who cannot get to the polls to vote. The State also recognizes that emergencies occur and make provisions for people to still be able to vote under those circumstances. http://www.votespa.com/portal/server.pt/community/applications_and_forms/13509 No one should miss the opportunity to vote in an election due to an emergency although additional forms must be completed.
The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania list on their website http://www.palwv.org/Voting/Voter-Info.asp a section of frequently asked questions for Pennsylvania voters compiled in one place with links to other websites to find information that voters want to know. For instance, if a voter goes to the poll on Tuesday and finds their name is not in the poll book, as the poll worker for a provisional ballot. Want to know your rights as a Pennsylvania voter? Voting should not be a complicated process. The Election Bureau is the place to report complaints. VotesPA.com has information about voter rights and responsibilities. Another online source for voting information in Pennsylvania can be found at http://www.smartvoter.org/pa/state/ Still unsure who is running for office? Smart Voter has lists of the candidates running for office in PA for every open position even breaking it down by county. No one should feel lost walking into their polling place on Tuesday. The information is out there to keep voters informed. All that is left to do now is get out and vote.