Student Voter Guide for Pennsylvania’s 2020 Primary Election
*Update*: Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the April 28 Pennsylvania primary election has been rescheduled to June 2. Any qualified voter may request a mail-in ballot. To find out how, see Voting by Absentee or Mail-in Ballot.
This guide will help you participate in Pennsylvania’s April 28 primary election, in which you can help choose America’s presidential nominees, along with U.S. House and state office candidates. In Pennsylvania, when you register you can choose a political party or choose No Affiliation. To vote in a primary, you must register with either the Democratic or Republican party.
Dates and Deadlines
- Primary election date: June 2, 7 AM to 8 PM
- Last day to register to vote or update your registration: May 18
- Last day to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot: May 26 by 5 PM
- Last day for County Boards of Elections to receive mail-in and absentee ballot: June 2 by 8 PM
Why this primary matters
You have a chance to determine the presidential nominees for the two major political parties. Democratic Party delegates are allotted proportionately, with a 15% minimum threshold to win delegates; while of the Republican Party delegates, 34 go to the statewide winner and 54 are unbound.
For Republican and Democratic presidential candidate websites, CNN has a complete list. Politico also has a quick guide to Democratic candidate positions.
To register to vote you must be:
- A U.S. citizen at least 30 days before the next election
- A resident of Pennsylvania and your election district at least 30 days before the next election
- At least 18 years on the day of the next election
How to register to vote
You can register (or re-register if your information changes) online; or by mail (download a paper form, complete it, and mail it to your county voter registration office); in person at your county voter registration office; or at a PennDOT photo or driver’s license center (when you obtain or renew a driver’s license) or any of the listed government agencies.
ID Requirements for registering
To register, you will need one of the following:
- PA driver’s license or PennDOT ID card number
- The last four digits of your Social Security number
If you don’t have one of these, indicate that on the registration form.
ID Requirements for voting
When you vote for the first time at your polling place, you’ll need one of these photo IDs:
- Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card
- ID issued by any Commonwealth agency or the U.S. Government
- U.S. passport or U.S. Armed Forces ID
- Student ID
- Employee ID
If you do not have a photo ID, you can use a non-photo ID that includes your name and address, including confirmation issued by the County Voter Registration Office; non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth or the U.S. Government; a firearm permit; a current utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck; or a government check.
Mail-In and Absentee voting
Recent legislation allows Pennsylvanians to vote by mail-in ballot without providing a reason. Your ballot can be mailed or dropped off in person to your county board of elections office by 8 PM on April 28. You can also get on a permanent mail-in ballot list. You can apply at your county board of elections for mail-in ballots. See the Mail-in and Absentee Ballot page for more information.
To apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot, you will need to supply a driver’s license number or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. If you have neither, you must submit a copy of an acceptable photo ID.
Address to use for registering and voting
Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state. However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.
It’s your choice where to register. Registering at your campus address will not:
- Affect your federal financial aid
- Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
- Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
- Affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student.
- Act 77 voting changes
- Resource Center
- Find your polling place and county board of elections
- Pennsylvania Democratic Party
- Republican Party of Pennsylvania
- Campus Vote Project – detailed student voting guides by state
- Vote411 – see candidate stands & generate a personalized ballot
- TurboVote or RockTheVote – get voter registration documents & email reminder