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The Pennsylvania primary election is around the corner, and voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, April 23, to pick candidates for the general election later this year. Voters still have until Monday, April 8, to register to be able to participate in the primary. (To vote in a primary, you must register in a political party since non-affiliated voters won’t get their turn until November.)

A Commonwealth Court ruling in 2001 permitted formerly incarcerated individuals in Pennsylvania to vote starting the day of their respective release. However, 23 years later, people are still asking “If I’m involved in the criminal justice system, can I still vote?” The answer is yes. The Pennsylvania Department of State Voting & Election Information has provided the following information to help clarify this issue.

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 was 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. If you register to vote by mail, you can print an application using the link provided, or you can request a mail application over the phone at 1-877-868-3772. All applications should be sent to the Voter Registration Office at 520 N Columbus Blvd, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19123.

You can also register to vote in person at the Philadelphia County Board of Elections, located at City Hall, Room 142, 1400 JFK Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107. The Board can be contacted for more questions, which we encourage you to exercise, at 215-686-3469.

People confined in a penal facility will vote using an absentee ballot, while those not confined will visit their polling place, which can be found using the city’s Atlas web tool.

Learn your voting rights as a person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor here.