Speak your voice and VOTE in Pennsylvania’s May 16 Primary!

Athena Strategies Logo

Many people think elections only happen every two or four years, but in Pennsylvania, we have at least two elections every year.  The PA primary is approaching on May 16 and on the ballot are a mix of very important races – judicial candidates at the state and local levels, county commissioners, and a host of other county, school board, and municipal-level seats. There are also special elections for state representatives in the 108th Legislative District in Montour and Northumberland counties and the 163rd Legislative District in Delaware County.

These positions impact countless aspects of our lives, from school board members determining how our children learn in school; to judges deciding cases on everything you can imagine, including employment, elections, family law, and criminal justice; to county leaders who make tax, infrastructure, and other critical decisions affecting our families.

Here’s a few things you should know:

Check your registration status. It’s a good idea to confirm your registration status before every election, which you can do here.  

Pennsylvania is a “closed” primary state. This means that you may only vote in the primary of the Democratic or Republican party in which you are registered. Voters who are Independent, registered with no affiliation, or with any third parties, are not able to vote in the primary, with the notable exceptions of the two special elections and ballot referendums or other local initiatives.  

I support repealing this closed primary system and allowing all independents to vote in primary elections! More than 1.1 million taxpaying independent PA voters are denied their right to vote in these elections. For more information and to lend your support, click here.

But on May 16, voters who reside in the 108th and 163rd Legislative Districts can vote in the special election regardless of their party affiliation or lack thereof.

Registered PA voters have three ways you can vote: 1) by mail; 2) early in-person mail ballot voting; and 3) in person polling place voting.

  1. Absentee/Vote by Mail
  • Any qualified PA voter may apply for a mail-in ballot – and you can do so in person or apply online. You do not need an excuse or a reason.
  • You have until May 9 to request a mail or absentee ballot. DO NOT WAIT!
  • Your voted ballot must be received by your county election office or other officially designated location, such as drop boxes, by 8 p.m. on Election Day
  • Under state law, voters must return their own ballots to be counted. The only exception is for voters with disabilities, who may designate someone in writing to return their ballot on their behalf. 
  • Make sure you put your ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope and seal it, and then insert the inner envelope into the outer pre-printed return envelope. And be sure to sign, date, and fill in all requested information on the outer envelope. Voters must complete all these steps to make sure their ballot will be counted.
  1. Early in-person mail ballot voting
  • You can conveniently vote in-person by mail ballot before Election Day at your county election office or other officially designated location. In one visit, voters can apply for and cast their mail ballot, and no need to use the mail at all.  But you must do this before the mail ballot application deadline, which is May 9, 2023. Check your county’s website for more details
  • You will need your PennDOT ID number or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. Review here the list of ID requirements for mail-in or absentee ballots.
  1. Election Day – May 16
  • Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • For more information about your county’s elections, voting systems, and candidates on the ballot, find your county here
  • You can find your polling location here.
  • Voter ID. Voter ID is required only if you are a first-time voter, or it is the first time you are voting in a new polling place. Here is a list of what counts as voter identification in Pennsylvania

If you are looking for more information about the races on the ballot or other election information, the League of Women Voters has information here and SpotlightPA has more information here.

Your voice matters – no matter how you choose to vote, be sure to take steps to participate today!