Know these rights when you go to the polls

With Election Day quickly approaching, the Pennsylvania State Department is encouraging voters to know their rights before going to vote in person.

On Tuesday, voters will decide local government and school board races, as well as statewide court races. Polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Voters have the right to vote at the polls on polling day without harassment or intimidation,” Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said Thursday.

Any voter who is bullied should report it to their county electoral board and district attorney’s office. Voters can call the State Department at 1-877-VOTESPA.

Degraffenreid also urged Pennsylvanians to visit to answer questions about the confirmation of their registration on the electoral rolls, find your polling station and vote in person.

Masks are encouraged inside polling stations, but voters who do not wear masks will not be denied their right to vote.

Tips to follow

The State Department offered several tips to voters heading to the polls on Tuesday.

Only first-time voters and first-time voters in a new constituency need to show ID, which can be with or without a photo.

First-time registered voters who do not bring ID to polling stations may return with ID or be offered a provisional ballot.

If an elector’s name does not appear in the poll book, election officers can call the county electoral board to see if the voter is registered in another constituency in the county.

Registered voters who are at the wrong polling station must go to the correct polling station to vote, but a voter who thinks they are registered at the station and should be on the poll book has the right to vote provisionally.

Voters who have moved to Pennsylvania but have not updated their address in time before the election can vote once more in their previous constituency, provided they update their address at the polling station.

Other tips include:

  • If half of the voting machines at a polling station are not functioning, voters have the right to use an emergency paper ballot. Poll workers should immediately offer the ballots, but if they don’t, voters should ask for one rather than leaving without voting.
  • If a voter is contested on the basis of identity or residence, the voter can vote normally by signing an affidavit of contestation and producing a witness who is also a registered voter in the precinct to vouch for them. . If the elector cannot or does not want to produce a witness, he can cast a provisional ballot. Identity, residence and qualifications as an eligible voter are the only grounds for contesting a voter at a polling station.
  • Voters have the right to assistance at the polling station, including assistance in foreign language or literacy. A voter can choose any person to assist him as long as that person is not his employer, a union representative or the election judge. Voters do not need to be identified as “authorized assistance” in the poll book to receive assistance. A person who wants help will be asked to sign a statement of aid at the precinct, unless the poll book already says “help allowed”.
  • Voters have the right to refuse assistance.

Following:Voting in Pennsylvania this year: what to know about postal voting, registration deadlines

Information on the postal ballot

The State Department also included advice for those who requested mail-in ballots:

  • Voters who have received a mail-in ballot but wish to vote in person instead must bring their entire mail-in ballot with them to be canceled, including the unused mail-in ballot and the outer return envelope. with the voter declaration.
  • Voters who have requested a mail-in ballot but have not returned it and no longer have it can vote by provisional ballot Tuesday in their polling station. Their county electoral board will then verify that they have not voted by mail before counting their provisional ballot.
  • Voters who requested a postal ballot but never received it are expected to vote by provisional ballot at the polls on Tuesday. Their county electoral board will then verify that they have not voted by mail before counting their provisional ballot.

Following:Election 2021: When will my postal ballot arrive? Will the polls have enough ballots this fall?

Following:Pennsylvania electoral reform: where it stands and what it means for 2022

JD Prose is a reporter for the Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau of the USA TODAY Network. He can be contacted at

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