Know Your Rights as a Voter

Registering to vote is only half of the battle. Many voters may run into problems on Election Day - they forgot their I.D., the machines are down, they went to the wrong polling place, etc. That's why its important that you know your rights as a voter. IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS ON ELECTION DAY CALL THE ELECTION DAY HOTLINE AT 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Election Day Attire - Please Read

In Philadelphia, voters are allowed to wear materials endorsing their candidates when they go into the polling place to vote. They may not actively campaign, and must leave the polling place once they are finished voting. Poll workers, watchers and candidates with a watcher's certificate are not allowed to wear anything endorsing their candidates, or engage in campaigning while inside the polling place. All campaigning (electioneering) must be done 10 feet away from the voting room.

Other counties in Pennsylvania might adopt a stricter rule and NOT permit a voter to wear any political merchandise into the polling place. Check with your county board of elections to determine the rule in your county.


Voter Identification

In Pennsylvania, only first-time voters (newly registered or newly registered at the division, i.e. change of address) need to present identification to vote on the voting machine. The identification can be the voter identification card, but it can also be any of the following:

Photo Identification (ID must be valid):
   Driver's license or ID card issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation  
   ID issued by any other Pennsylvania agency 
   ID issued by the U.S. Government 
   U.S. passport 
   U.S. Armed Forces ID 
   Student ID 
   Employee ID

Non-photo Identification (ID must include the name and address of the voter):
   Voter's ID card issued by your county’s Board of Elections 
   Non-photo ID issued by Pennsylvania 
   Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government 
   Firearm permit 
   Current utility bill 
   Current bank statement 
   Current paycheck 
   Government check

If you are registered to vote but unable or unwilling to show an approved form of identification, you can still vote on a provisional (paper) ballot.

What to do if you're not in the poll book

If you show up at your polling place and your name isn't in the poll book you should:

   1. Call our Citizen's Access Center at 1-866-268-8603 to be sure that you're at the right polling place. If you're at the wrong location and have time to go to the correct polling place, you should do so and vote using the machine at your assigned polling place - this is the best way to cast your vote and make sure it counts. If you are unable to travel to the correct polling place, ask to vote using a provisional ballot (see below).

   2. Ask the Judge of Elections tocall Voter Registration at 215-686-1590. If you're at the right polling place, have the Judge check if you are in the voter registration database. If the Judge of Elections can get official confirmation that your are registered, they are should allow you to vote using the machine.

   3. Ask for a provisional ballot. If you know that you're registered, you can vote using a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are paper ballots that are used when a voter can't be verified using the materials at the polling place. The ballots are counted only if the voter is in fact registered. If the voter is registered at another division, the only votes that will count are those for races which are on the ballot in the division the voter is registered in. For example, if you vote in a division that shares the same State Senator but not the same State Representative, the vote for senator will count but the vote for representative will not. All State and Federal races count on provisinonal ballots (as long as you're voting for races in the U.S.A.).

Voters in Need of Assistance

How to Receive Assistance

To have an “Assistance Permitted” notation added to the District Register-Pollbook, a voter must make a written request to their County Board of Elections. The letter should state the voter’s name, address and date of birth. The letter should specifically request that a notation indicating that assistance in voting is needed be marked on the voter’s registration record in the Division Pollbook. To ensure that the notation is added, the Voter Registration Administration must receive a voter’s letter no later than 21 days before an election.

If the voter does not submit a timely request and the pollbook does not indicate that assistance is permitted, the voter can still obtain assistance by filing out an Assistance Declaration at the polling place. Assistance Declaration forms will be included in Judge of Election’s election material box. 

Who Can Assist You

If you are visually impaired, physically disabled, or unable to read or write English well, a person of your choice can help you vote as long as that person is NOT your employer, union leader, or the Judge of Election (unless the Judge is the only person who speaks the same language as you and you choose him or her to help you). You can also contact the Board of Elections in advance to request assistance at the polls. Be sure to fill out a Declaration of Assistance form if the poll book does not indicate "assistance permitted."

You have the RIGHT to vote independently. If someone is trying to assist you and you don't want or need the help, politely ask the person to leave you alone.

There is no requirement that the assister be a registered voter. Under federal law, Philadelphia is considered a bilingual (English/Spanish) jurisdiction. Therefore, all voting materials, including voting instructions and ballots, must be provided and posted in English and Spanish. Voters who are proficient in Spanish are encouraged to vote without assistance once they have completed the sign-in process.

Convicted Felons, Misdemeants and Pretrial Detainees (Pennsylvania)

Convicted felons are eligible to register to vote and vote if they have been, or will be by Election Day, released from a correctional facility or halfway house upon the completion of their term of incarceration.

NOTE: Incarcerated felons, and individuals in a halfway house or other alternative correctional facility on pre-release status for conviction of a felony, may not register and may not vote.

Individuals on probation or released on parole, including parolees living in a halfway house, are eligible to register to vote and vote.

Convicted misdemeants are eligible to register to vote and vote while incarcerated, if they are confined only for a misdemeanor. These voters should register at their residence prior to confinement, or their permenant address (other than the penal institution) and vote using an absentee ballot. For information about the absentee ballot process, including an application click here.

Individuals under house arrest, regardless of their conviction, are eligible to register to vote and vote.

For more information, please read the Pennsylvania Department of State's brochure Voting Rights of Convicted Felons, Convicted Misdemeants and Pretrial Detainees(PDF)

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