Over the past several presidential election cycles, Common Cause Pennsylvania has led a statewide Election Protection Program here in the Commonwealth. Election Protection makes sure that every Pennsylvanian can make their voices heard even when anti-voter rules try to get in the way. Every election year, Common Cause Pennsylvania mobilizes Election Protection volunteers to help our fellow Pennsylvanians navigate the voting process and cast their votes without obstruction, confusion, or intimidation.
Common Cause Pennsylvanian and the Election Protection Program are crucial lines of defense for voters against suppression tactics, confusing laws, outdated infrastructure, and other impediments to making themselves heard. Above all, we inform voters of their rights, help elections officials handle problems in real time, and notify legal teams when the courts’ interference is needed.
How can you help?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Common Cause PA has updated our election protection program to prioritize safety for our volunteers alongside protecting our elections. Here are our different volunteer pathways:
- Be a Roving Volunteer: Election Day roving volunteers will help:
- Monitor physical polling locations from their vehicles
- Distribute yard signs (with the 866-Vote information) at polling locations
- Check on closed polling locations
- Be an In-Person Poll Monitor Volunteer: Poll monitoring is for volunteers who feel that they can safely monitor outside polling locations with proper PPE and social distancing measures:
- Monitor activity outside a particular polling location
- Assist voters whose questions you can answer.
- Take note of watch times, accessibility options, and other information that can aid the Election Protection team.
- Be a Digital Volunteer: The digital volunteering program can be completed without leaving your room! Our digital volunteers will:
- Monitor social media channels for election issues, reports, news stories, and any other information.
- Report to the Common Cause team and allies to help us respond to issues in real time.
Read our Voting During COVID-19 Guide Below and Share the Info with your friends, family and neighbors. We’re all in this together.
Voting During COVID-19
Elections across America have been taking place during an unprecedented time and Pennsylvania’s voters experienced this firsthand during the June primary. As we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be additional changes for the November 3rd general election. Similar to what we experienced in the primary, public safety measures will dictate how polling stations operate.
Used for the first time in the primary, no-excuse vote-by-mail will face its first use in a Pennsylvania general election. With current trends in the pandemic, and pending litigation for issues, voters should be ready for more possible changes.
One thing will not change: your right to vote in a fair and free election. Common Cause Pennsylvania has assembled resources to help you navigate this election cycle. Below you can learn about new election dates, polling locations, voter registration pathways, and tips for voting during the COVID 19 outbreak.
As Americans, our right to vote is a privilege and a responsibility. The right to vote and have our voices heard is fundamental to our democracy. Our democracy is stronger when every eligible American participates, confident that when they cast a vote, that it will be counted as cast, that the process is secure, and that anyone who interferes or tampers with our elections will be held accountable.
Use our collection of voting tools for Pennsylvania to:
- Register to vote
- Check your registration status
- Vote by mail or request an absentee ballot
- Check election dates
- If you have a felony conviction, learn if you are eligible to vote
The Pennsylvania general election will be held on November 3, 2020.
Other dates to keep in mind are the deadlines for voter registration and vote by mail/absentee ballot requests. Voter registration applications to vote in the November 3, 2020 general election must be completed by October 19, 2020. When registered, both vote by mail and absentee ballot applications for the primary election must be received by your county election board office by October 27, 2020 at 5pm ET.
- VotesPA vote by mail/absentee ballot application deadline [Ocotber 27, 2020]
- VotesPA voter registration deadline [October 19, 2020]
New this year, all Pennsylvanian voters can vote-by-mail in the primary and general elections. To apply for a mail-in ballot, go to www.votespa.com, the official Pennsylvania government website for voter registration and election information. You can apply for a ballot online or print and send off a paper ballot to your local county board of elections.
Have a question? Check out our updated general election Vote-By-Mail FAQ’s
Voting Safely at the Polls
While vote-by-mail is encouraged as the safest voting option this election cycle, we understand that voters may need or choose to vote at physical polling locations. If you are planning to or must vote in person, please make safety a priority. Continue to social distance and wear protective face masks and other necessary protective gear.
Polling locations will likely have safety measures in place, but not all polling locations will look the same. You can check with your local county board of elections to see what precautions will be taken at your polling location. To personally be prepared, you can bring your own pen to use, if necessary, for filling out any information. Bring any personal sanitizer to use while voting.
Even with safety precautions in place, Pennsylvania voters have the same rights this election as they do every election. If you are in line by 8:00PM when polls close, the polling location must allow you to vote. COVID 19 is not an excuse to deny or discriminate otherwise.
Polling Place by County
Due to COVID-19 precautions, polling locations may be moved, or consolidated if the option is available. We’re adding information as it comes in, so please check this page again closer to November to find the newest information on polling locations
- University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security – Report on Elections in the Time of COVID-19
- Fair Elections Center – Report on Registering and Voting in the Era of COVID-19
This new report lays out policy proposals for safeguarding our elections this Fall. Fair Election Center’s proposals address best practices for socially-distanced voter registration, to help people register in the absence or reduction of traditional on-the-ground community voter registration efforts. They also outline best practices for mail voting that consider voters’ ability to practically obtain, cast and return a ballot in this environment. Finally, recognizing the importance of maintaining in-person voting, the proposals include various best practices for in-person voting considering COVID-19.
- UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, Voting Rights Lab, Union of Concerned Scientists – Report on Protecting Public Health In the 2020 Election
This new report highlights public health considerations for in-person voting, facts about election day congestion, and policy recommendations from the partnering organizations that authored the report (UCLA Voting Rights Project, Voting Rights Lab, Union of Concerned Scientists).