American at a polling booth

The 2020 November Election is less than one month away. While the pandemic has affected employment, schools, and social gatherings, the voting process also experienced changes. With changing voter guidelines and polling locations, it’s understandable if you have questions about casting your ballot this year.  

Fortunately, voter education advocates are working hard to make sure the city is informed of their choices in this election. With local organizers’ help, the Germantown Info Hub has created a Voter Resource Guide for the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood. 

Table of Contents

1. General Updates for 2020 Election

2. Germantown Resources

3. Important Deadlines

4. Voter Registration & Eligibility

5. Early Voting: Satellite Election Offices

6. Election Day Voting: Polls

7. Mail-in Ballot Information

a. How to request a mail-in ballot

b. How to complete a mail-in ballot

8. Frequently Asked Questions

General Updates about 2020 Election

  • For general updates about voting in Pennsylvania visit Votes PA website. 
  • For general updates about voting in Philadelphia visit The City Commissioners website. 
  • For information on how young people can get involved with the election visit Vote That Jawn and Philly Youth Vote. 
  • Contact the Philadelphia County Elections Office for questions related to your polling place, when or where an election will be held and other election related information: County Board of Elections Rm. 142 City Hall Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 686-3469
  • Contact the Philadelphia Voter Registration Office to confirm if you are registered to vote and for other questions related to voter registration:  520 N Columbus Blvd, 5th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19123 (215) 686-1590
  • Curious about who’s on the ballot? Visit the Committee of Seventy voter guides. 
  • Sign up for Equally Informed Philly,  a voter information hotline of Resolve Philly to reduce barriers for residents who need trustworthy info. Text EQUALINFO to the number 73224 to get started.

Germantown Resources

  • For help with voter registration and mail-in ballot applications in Germantown, visit the  Johnson House Historic Site or call 215-438-1768 
  • Are you early voting? Germantown United CDC has tips on how to early vote this year.
  • The Local Newspaper (serving NW Philadelphia) has volunteers available to walk neighbors through voter registration and census filing. They are located at The Local’s office at the corner of Chelten & Pulaski on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm. 
  • The City Commissioners opened seven satellite election offices for early voting. You can register to vote, request a mail-in ballot and turn in your mail-in ballot in one visit. The Northwest office is located at  Roxborough High School, 6498 Ridge Ave., 19128
  • Germantown resident Lawanda Horton Sauter started Bold, Black & Informed, a voter information campaign for people of color. For voter and candidate information visit BBI’s Instagram page. 
  • Are you constantly on the move? Catch Clarice Thomas and her voter registration cart around Germantown. She has voter registration applications and information on voting options. She visits Ultimo, Dunkin Donuts and Rite Aid one to two times a week.

Important Deadlines

  • Last day to register online. 
  • All voter registration applications but be received by your county election office by this date.
  • All in-person registration applications must be completed and dropped off by this date. 
  • October 27– Applications  must be received by your county election office by 5 p.m.
  • November 3 – Mail-in ballot must be returned. The mail-in ballot must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day and received by your county election office by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 6 to be counted. 
    • In-person: You must return your mail-in ballot to the Philadelphia election office or other designated location by 8 p.m. on election day.
  • November 6 – Mail-in ballots (postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day) must be received by the county election office by 5 p.m.

Voter Registration & Eligibility

  • Confirm your registration status or  update your registration online at PA Dept. of State’s website. You may also call the Voter Registration Office in Philadelphia to request your status at (215) 686-1590
  • Visit the PA Dept. of State’s website to register to vote online
  • Download a voter registration application here. 

*You can register to vote on the same day during Early Voting

To register to vote in PA, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States at least one month before the next election 
  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania and your election district at least 30 days before the election 
  • Be at least 18 years of age on the Election Day you wish to vote in.

You may also register if you: 

  • Are a pretrial detainee, confined in a penal institution awaiting trial on charges of a felony or a misdemeanor
  • Got released or will get released by the date of the next election from a correctional facility or halfway house (this must be upon completion of the term of incarceration for conviction of a misdemeanor or a felony)
  • Are on probation or released on parole
  • Are under house arrest (home confinement)

Early Voting: Satellite Election Offices 

Philadelphia opened Satellite Election Offices for Early Voting. Citizens can register to vote, request and complete a mail-in ballot in one visit. There are currently seven offices open, and 10 more are soon to come. Below are the seven opened offices. Find out more about satellite offices on the City Commissioners website

*Early Voting will be from Sep. 14 – Oct. 27, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live

  • Center City: City Hall, Room 140, 1400 JFK Blvd., 19107
  • Far Northeast: George Washington High School, 10175 Bustleton Ave., 19116
  • North Philly: The Liacouras Center, 1776 N Broad St., 19121
  • Northwest Philly: Roxborough High School, 6498 Ridge Ave., 19128
  • Southwest Philly: Tilden Middle School, 6601 Elmwood Ave., 19142
  • North Philly: Julia De Burgos Elementary, 401 W Lehigh Ave., 19133
  • West Philly: Overbrook Elementary School, 2032 N 62nd St., 19151

The following ten offices will be available soon.

  • Northern Liberties: Riverview Place, 1st Floor 520 N Columbus Blvd., 19123
  • Far Northeast: Joseph H Brown School, 3600 Stanwood St., 19136
  • Lower Northeast: Harding Middle School, 2000 Wakeling St., 19124
  • Lower Northeast: J Hampton Moore School, 6900 Summerdale Ave., 19111
  • Northwest Philly: A.B. Day School, 6324 Crittenden St., 19138
  • Kensington: Mastbaum High School, 3116 Frankford Ave., 19134
  • South Philly: Creative and Performing Arts, 901 S Broad St., 19147
  • North Philly:  Feltonville Intermediate School, 238 E Wyoming Ave., 19120
  • North Philly: Julia Ward Howe School, 5800 N 13th St., 19141
  • West Philly: Alain Locke School, 4550 Haverford Ave., 19139

Poll Voting

PA polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you are in line by 8 p.m., you will be allowed to cast your ballot. Use PA Dept of State’s online Polling Place Search toolto find your polling location before Election Day.

  1.  If you are interested in becoming a poll worker, fill out the Poll Worker Interest Form.
  2.  After you submit the form, your county’s election office will contact you. 

 You may reach out to the election office to follow up. You can find the contact information on the Contact Your Election Officials page.

  • You must be registered to vote in the county where you wish to work. (Exceptions exist for 17-year-old high school students, who must meet additional requirements. High school students should contact their county election office for more information.)
  • Additionally, government officials and government employees are not allowed to serve as poll workers. Exceptions exist for district judges, notaries public, and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard. 

Poll workers work for the entire day on election day, from before the time the polls open at 7:00 am, until after the polls close at 8:00 pm.*All poll workers are paid for their time on election day.

Mail-in Ballot

In Pennsylvania, you have two options for mailed ballots. You may either choose a mail-in ballot or an absentee ballot to request, complete, and return to your county election office in person or by mail.

  • Mail-in Ballot – Any qualified voter may apply for a Mail-in ballot. You may simply request this ballot without a reason.
  • Absentee Ballot – If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you should request this ballot type, which still requires you to list a reason for your ballot. 

Which ballot should you use?

  • Mail-in Ballot
    • You may apply for a Mail-in Ballot if you are a qualified voter. You must be registered to vote in order to vote by Mail-in ballot.
  • Absentee Ballot
    • College students who are not registered to vote at their school address
    • People whose work or vacation take them away from the municipality where they live
    • Those with a physical disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polling place
    • Members of the military
    • People who may have a conflict due to the celebration of a religious holiday
    • Inmates who haven’t been convicted of a felony
  • How to request a Mail-in ballot online?
  • How to request a Mail-in ballot by mail?
    • Complete an online form to have a Mail-in ballot mailed to you.
      • Paper application form. 
      • You can contact your county election office directly to request a paper application. 
      • Or you can contact the Department of State to request an application by emailing or calling 1-877-VOTESPA.
  • Carefully complete your mail-in ballot to ensure your ballot is not rejected. 
    • Open the ballot package when you receive it in the mail. Be careful not to rip or tear the ballot inside the envelope. Most voters ripped their ballots in the PA Primary Election. 
    • Make sure there is a secrecy envelope included. Your mail-in ballot MUST be in the secrecy envelope when mailed back. A mail-in ballot NOT in a secrecy envelope, also known as a “naked ballot,” will not be counted. 
    • Fill out the ballot as soon as possible. Place the completed mail-in ballot in the secrecy envelope AND then place the secrecy envelope in the outer return envelope. 
    • Do not forget to sign the back of the outer envelope. A signature is required on the back of the outer envelope. If you do not sign the outer envelope, your mail-in ballot will be rejected. 
  • If you’re still unsure how to fill-out your mail-in ballot, watch Ceiba Philadelphia’s YouTube video on how to complete your ballot. 

Did you request your Mail-in ballot but haven’t received it yet? Track your Mail-in ballot here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I vote if I were previously incarcerated?

“If your feet are on the street, you can vote,” Ceiba Philadelphia’s Program Coordinator Marcos Lomeli said. 

If you have a record, are in jail on a misdemeanor, on parole, on bail, detained and awaiting trial, or living in a halfway house, you can vote. You will need an absentee ballot. ONLY people who are currently in jail serving a conviction for a felony are unable to vote

I haven’t received my mail-in ballot yet. Can I early vote?

You can early vote once you’ve received your Mail-in ballot. If you haven’t requested a Mail-in ballot but want to vote early, you can request a ballot at the Satellite Election Offices. 

Can I turn in a mail-in ballot for those who are physically unable? Nursing home or senior citizens?

Those who are physically unable to personally pick up or submit an Absentee or Mail-in Ballot may designate a representative – in writing – to deliver the absentee ballot to the voter and then have that same individual return the completed absentee ballot to the County Board of Elections, by completing the Designation of Certification of Agents forms. 

When can I expect my mail-in ballot? I applied months ago.

The USPS system has delayed mail, including Mail-in ballots. If you’re unsure where your Mail-in ballot is, track it using PA’s Dept. of States tracking tool. 

I have a mail-in ballot, but decided to vote at the polls on election day. Can I do this?

Yes! Bring your Mail-in ballot to polls and surrender it, and you can cast your vote on the voting machines.