Common Cause Pennsylvania

Voters’ Tool Kit



Many political and election experts claim that the 2012 Primary and General elections will be among the most important in a half century. All acknowledge that Pennsylvania is a pivotal swing state, and therefore may be the target of dirty tricks designed to depress turnout, misdirect and harass voters, or otherwise deny Pennsylvanians their right to vote.

Be prepared - register to vote today!


The key is to be an informed voter. Know your rights. Defend your rights. Report abuses. The 1 866 OUR VOTE hotline will be available throughout Election Day to advise you and, if necessary, provide attorneys to defend you. It also will help detect problem trends around the state. The following are some important principles and practices to remember.


» EVERYBODY Votes on Election Day – Between 7 a.m and 8 p.m.

The Primary Election is on April 24th

The General Election is on November 6th

 If you get a flyer, phone call, fax or email stating you are to vote on Wednesday instead of Tuesday due to expected high voter turnout, it is not true. Elderly, disabled and minority voters have been targeted by such campaigns in the past. 


»  Learn Where You Vote, How Your Voting Machine Works and Confirm Your Registration. The PA Dept. of State provides an excellent website that can provide this information. To find your polling place, near the bottom of the webpage go to “Where is My Polling Place?”, click on “Find out now”, and provide the requested information. To confirm you are registered to vote, at the top left of the webpage click on “Register to Vote”, then go to the bottom of the page, click on “confirm your registration status”, then click on “voter registration database” and provide the requested information. If you want to know how your voting machine works go the “Voting System Demos” area when you enter the website, click on “Find your system now”, then click on your county’s name and view the video. If you still have problems call the hotline.


»  Students Can Vote At Their College Address If Registered There. If political operatives at your polling site or elsewhere threaten you with loss of your financial aid if you try to vote in your college town, it is not true. If you are legally registered in your college town you can vote there with no repercussions.


»  Required Identification. If you are a newly registered voter OR voting at a polling place for the first time you will have to present either a photo ID or an alternative ID, such as your voter registration card, a utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck with your name and address on it.


» Never Leave the Polling Place Without Voting. Election officials can not send you away without voting. If the voting machines are not functioning properly election officials MUST offer you an emergency ballot. If your name has not been included in the poll book when you go to sign in, or you have forgotten the required identification, election officials MUSToffer you a provisional ballot.


» Be Sure Your Vote Is Counted. If you vote on an electronic voting machine, after verifying the machine has recorded your vote correctly be sure to push the VOTE button and do not leave until the machine is clear. Otherwise the pollworker is required to nullify your vote.


» Electioneering At the Polling Place. You are not permitted to do anything inside the polling place to influence another person’s vote. While election officials may not wear shirts, caps or buttons supporting candidates, voters may do so. However, some election officials have been known to violate this right so you may want to cover up or leave such campaign wear in your car or at home.


»  Former Convicts Who Have Served Their Sentences Can Vote. It’s the law in PA. 

Anyone who is not in prison for a felony conviction on election day can vote, including people awaiting trial or on probation.


» Absentee Ballots Must Be Requested By October 28 and Delivered By October 31. If you are voting by absentee ballot, be sure it is delivered to the county election office by the end of October. Special procedures are required to get an emergency absentee ballot if you become ill or otherwise unable to vote at the polls during the intervening four days.


» Alternative Languages. If you live in Philadelphia, Lehigh, Berks, Lebanon, Lancaster or York county, ballots will be provided in Spanish upon request. Philadelphia also has ballots in some east Asian languages.


» Help At the Polls. If you are having trouble operating your voting machine or do not understand the process, ask an election official for assistance. If you are disabled, you are permitted to have a family member or friend (as long as it is not your employer, union officer, or Judge of Elections) assist you in the polling booth.


While few people encounter serious problems, they do happen often enough to require special attention. If anyone violates your rights or otherwise attempts to infringe upon your right to vote, keep copies of any offending communications, get as many details as you can about offending individuals and provide them to the 1 866 OUR VOTE hotline.


Voting is the most precious right of every citizen. It is the way we as citizens unite to select our leaders -- and hold them accountable for their actions. So know your rights. Protect your rights.