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By Kate Huangpu of Spotlight PA

HARRISBURG — More than a few things have changed since Pennsylvanians last went to the polls. Your congressional and legislative districts might be different, some counties are supervising or reducing drop boxes, and the mail-in voting law has been ruled unconstitutional — but, for now, it remains in effect and a valid form of voting.

Here’s what you need to know to be prepared for Pennsylvania’s 2022 primary election:

When is the 2022 primary election day in Pennsylvania?

Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Mark your calendar!

When do polls open for Pa.’s 2022 primary election?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Can I still register to vote?

The last day to register to vote was May 2. You can check if you’ve already registered here using either your name and address or a form of state-issued identification.

What if I want to change parties?

To change your party affiliation, fill out the same voter registration form that you used to register the first time.

When filling out the form, simply select the box that says “change of party.” If you register less than 15 days before the election, then the change will not take place until the next election cycle.

If you are an unaffiliated/independent voter, you will not be allowed to vote for major party candidates in key races like governor or U.S. Senate.

Where do I vote?

If you’re voting in person, you can look up your polling place here.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes! Although Commonwealth Court has found the way the state’s mail-in voting law was passed to be unconstitutional, the case was appealed to the state Supreme Court (the highest court in Pennsylvania). The Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect while the case is heard, so if you want to vote by mail, you can.

How do I vote by mail?

You can request a mail-in ballot here using either a state-issued form of identification or your Social Security number.

What is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot?

The deadline for the primary is May 10, 2022.

How do I properly prepare my mail-in ballot so it’s not thrown out?

After receiving your mail-in ballot, be sure to read the instructions and complete the front and back of each page. After filling it out, place the ballot in the inner secrecy envelope that came with it. The secrecy envelope will be labeled, “official election ballot.” Be sure not to make any marks on it. Finally, put the secrecy envelope in the return envelope that has been pre-addressed. Remember to sign and date the return envelope, otherwise your vote will not be counted! For more details you can check here.

How do I drop off a mail-in ballot?

Mail-in ballots must be received by your county’s board of elections by 8 p.m. on the day of the primary, Tuesday, May 17. You can return your mail-in ballot at a drop box, your county election board, or another designated location, or through the mail. You can locate a dropoff location here.

Voters must return their own ballots unless otherwise permitted. Only voters with a disability may designate someone to deliver their ballot for them. To officially designate someone, fill out this form and send it with your mail-in ballot. If you’ve already sent in your mail-in ballot, you can contact your local county election office for information on where to turn in the form.

How do I vote absentee?

The process to request an absentee ballot is similar to that of requesting a mail-in ballot. You can apply online or download the form and send it to your county election office. However, the application requires you to list a reason for your absence, unlike a mail-in ballot. You can find the application here.

What is the deadline to request an absentee ballot?

The deadline for the primary is 5 p.m. May 10, 2022.

Has my legislative or congressional district changed?

Possibly. You can use our map comparison tool to see how new legislative and congressional district maps might affect you.

What’s on the ballot?

All Pennsylvanians will be voting for a new governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, and U.S representative. Many will also be electing new state representatives based on their new legislative district lines. While the new Senate lines leave the balance of power relatively unchanged in that chamber, the new House districts have the potential to level the playing field for Democrats come the general election.

Ballots will also differ depending on which municipality you reside in. Some voters might be selecting new city council members or ward representatives. Most counties provide a preview of what their ballot will look like. You can find your county election site here.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan national voter advocacy group, also offers a ballot preview tool.

Are there any constitutional amendments or statewide referendums on the ballot?

No. You can track the status of all current proposals using our Amendment Tracker.

Why does the primary matter?

Primaries often decide which candidate will win the general election. Legislative districts tend to be small and politically cohesive. In the new legislative maps, only 15% of the seats are considered competitive, according to nonpartisan analysis. That means most districts have one party with a strong majority. So whichever candidate wins the primary of the dominant party is all but guaranteed to win the general election in November.

Full coverage of the Pennsylvania primary election 2022:

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