National Voter Registration Day falls on September 19 and is the biggest one-day event aimed at registering voters in the US. The Germantown Info Hub provides a guide on registering to vote before the general election in November to keep you and the community informed.
How to register
In order to register to vote in Philadelphia, you need to meet specific requirements. You must:
- be a citizen of the United States for at least one month before the next election,
- be a resident of Philadelphia and your election district for at least 30 days before the next election, and
- be at least 18 years old by the date of the next election.
To get registered, eligible citizens need to submit a voter registration application. These applications must be received by the City Commissioners Office (1400 JFK Blvd, City Hall, Room 130) 15 days before the next election.
Philadelphia’s next election date is Tuesday, November 7, 2023, meaning you have until October 23, 2023 to register.
To register for voting in Philadelphia County, you can visit the local Election Offices:
Voter Registration Office
520 N. Columbus Blvd,
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Enter from Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia County Board of Elections
City Hall, Room 142
1400 JFK Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Enter through the East or South portals
You can also have a Voter Registration card printed on-demand at both locations.
Note: If you plan to get/update a driver’s license or identification card from PennDOT before October 23, 2023, you can register to vote while doing so.
You can register to vote online with the Pa. State Department. A Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card is not required, but you can still use the online form if you don’t have one.
Register by mail
All applications should be mailed to:
Voter Registration Office
520 N Columbus Blvd, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Downloadable applications are here:
You can also get printed copies of the application at:
- Philadelphia Public Libraries
- U.S. Post Offices
- State Liquor Stores
- Other State Government Offices
Can’t find an application? Call the City Commissioners Office at (215) 686-1590, and they’ll send one your way!
I’m involved in the criminal justice system – can I still vote?
If you meet any of the following criteria, you are eligible to register and vote:
- You are currently awaiting trial for a felony or misdemeanor and are being held in a penal institution as a pretrial detainee.
- You have previously been convicted of a misdemeanor.
- You have been or will be released from a correctional facility or halfway house before the next election. This is only applicable if you have completed your term of incarceration for a felony conviction.
- You are currently on probation or have been released on parole, including those living in halfway houses.
- You are under house arrest, also known as home confinement. Regardless of your conviction status or conditions of confinement, you are eligible to vote.
You cannot register to vote or vote if:
- If you have a felony conviction and are currently serving time in a penal institution, you will not be released until after the next election. This also applies if you are incarcerated for one or more misdemeanor offenses.
- If you are in a halfway house or another alternative correctional facility on pre-release status for a felony conviction, you will not be released until after the next election.
- If you have violated any provision of the Pennsylvania Election Code within the last four years
If you are in a penal institution, your residence for voter registration is:
- The last address where you registered to vote before confinement or
- Your last known address before confinement, or
- A new residence established while confined. For example, if your spouse moves to a new address where you intend to live when you get released.
You can register to vote online or by mail (see above on how to do so).
Folks confined in a penal facility will vote using an absentee ballot (see below). Folks who are not confined will visit their polling place.
Learn your voting rights as a person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor here.
Voting ahead of Election Day
There are various reasons why people vote ahead of time, such as the inaccessibility of polling places, being out of town, or being in penal confinement. To guarantee that your vote will count, make sure to have your absentee or mail-in ballot beforehand.
The deadline to apply for an absentee/mail-in ballot before election day is October 31, 2023, by 5 p.m. The County Board of Elections must receive all mail-in/absentee ballots by 8 p.m. on Election Day. You should send them in as early as possible, as postmarked dates do not count.
Mail-in versus Absentee ballots and how to get them
Absentee ballots are available to folks with disabilities or immunocompromised, folks who will be out of the city during that time, or have a conflicting religious holiday on Election Day.
Mail-in ballots are available to all residents with no explanation of circumstances needed.
You can apply for permanent mail-in ballots by checking the box provided in the application that asks if you want to receive them annually.
***Once you receive the ballot materials, be sure to follow all the instructions. Refusal to do so may result in your vote not being counted. Here is a story explaining the ways ballots are disqualified and how to ensure your vote counts.
Mail-in/absentee ballot voters may also drop their ballots at their nearest drop-box (find yours here) from when they complete it until 8 p.m. on Election Day. The nearest drop-box for Germantown residents is Pleasant Playground at 6757 Chew Avenue, 19119.
Information for people with disabilities
The Department of State is dedicated to improving accessibility for voters with disabilities. To request an accessible remote ballot, voters can follow the instructions below. This type of ballot enables individuals who utilize assistive devices and screen readers to vote a mail ballot privately and independently.
To obtain an accessible remote ballot, an individual should:
- Be a registered Pennsylvania voter.
- Apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot.
- Submit a request for an accessible remote ballot.
It’s important to note that you must apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot before requesting an accessible remote ballot. To ensure your request is processed quickly, submitting it within 24 hours of applying for your absentee or mail-in ballot is best.
If you cannot fill in your own ballot due to illness or physical disability, you can receive assistance. However, you and the person assisting you must complete the Assistance Declaration. It is important to note that the person assisting cannot be your employer, an agent of your employer, an officer or agent of your union, or the Judge of Elections for your division.
Generally, voters must personally pick up and return their ballots. However, individuals with disabilities can make an exception. If you have a physical disability or illness, you may complete a designation of agent form to authorize someone else to transport your ballot. Both the voter and agent must sign the form. Agents can only transport ballots for one household per election. You can download the designation of agent form here.
Learn about accessibility and polling place rights for residents with disabilities on Election Day here.