Questions about registering, voting in May's primary election? Here are some answers

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Hundreds wait in line to vote at Northeastern Middle School, Tuesday, November 3, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

York County residents who want to participate in the May 18 primary election have less than a month to register to vote.

The voter registration deadline for the primary election is May 3. Those who haven't yet registered can do so online, by mail, at the York County Elections and Voter Registration Office or at a state Department of Transportation drivers license center.

More information about registering to vote can be found on the Department of State website. 

Once registered, voters will be able to vote in-person at their respective polling locations or by mail.

Those wishing to vote by mail must apply for a ballot by 5 p.m. on May 11. The ballots must be received by the county elections office by 8 p.m. on May 18.

Voters can apply for a mail-in ballot online or by mailing the application found on the state's website to the county elections office, located at 28 E. Market St. in York City.

Even if voters signed up for mail-in ballots in the last election, they are required to do so again. Voters can, however, sign up to receive mail-in ballots annually on the state's website.

A variety of offices will be on the primary ballot. Some notable contested races include:

  • Two seats on the York City Council.
  • Two seats on the York County Court of Common Pleas.
  • State Senate seat for the 48th District, which includes Conewago, East Manchester, Newberry and Springettsbury townships.

Before you vote, here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

Where do I go to vote?

Your ward and precinct are marked on your voter registration card. To find your polling place, use the county's interactive map that allows you to search for your polling place based on your home address.

What will the ballot look like?

If you want to know what to expect the ballot to look like at your polling location, you can find it on the county's website. 

Do I need to bring any form of identification?

Some form of identification is required to vote in many states, but Pennsylvania is not one of them. However, those voting for the first time in their election district must show ID, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. Acceptable photo IDs include a state-issued driver's license, U.S. passport, military ID, student ID or any ID issued by a federal or state agency. Acceptable nonphoto IDs include a voter registration card, firearm permit, utility bill, bank statement or government check. If using a nonphoto ID, it must contain your address.

Can I wear clothing/accessories supporting candidates or parties?

Voters are allowed to wear things such as T-shirts, hats and pins that show support for candidates or parties, which is not the case in some other states.

What should I do if I feel I'm being intimidated at the polls?

It is illegal for any person or corporation to influence a voter through intimidation or coercion in the state, according to the Department of State. Anyone who feels intimidated at the polls is encouraged to contact the county board of elections at 717-771-9604 or to file a complaint through the department's website.

The only people allowed inside polling places are election officials, clerks, machine inspectors, certified poll watchers, residents in the process of voting, people legally giving assistance to voters and police officers. Those who do not fit into these categories must remain at least 10 feet away from the entrance.

Can someone challenge my right to vote?

Certain people can challenge a person's right to vote for certain reasons, according to the Department of State. A poll worker, certified poll watcher or another registered voter may challenge a voter on the grounds that they do not live in the precinct or are not who they say they are. A voter who is challenged may still vote, however, by signing a challenge affidavit and producing a witness to vouch for him or her. If your name is not included in the poll book and you believe this is a mistake, you can vote via a provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot that will be counted if it is determined that you were eligible to vote in that precinct. 

What if I need assistance because of a disability or have difficulty understanding English?

Assistance is allowed in Pennsylvania for voters who can't read or write, have difficulty understanding English or who are blind or disabled, according to the department. Assistance may be requested of a friend, relative, neighbor or another voter, and you don't need to be designated as "assistance permitted" in your district's poll book to receive assistance. However, if you're not listed as "assistance permitted" in the book, you must sign an assistance declaration.

What if I'm having trouble with casting my ballot or other aspects of the voting process?

For some issues, simply speaking with the poll worker at your polling location would suffice. You also can call the York County Voting and Elections Office at 717-771-9604.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.