After months of heated debate and weeks of early voting, Election Day has finally arrived. Nov. 3 is your last opportunity to vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Polls open in Pennsylvania starting at 7 a.m. and will remain open through 8 p.m. If you plan to vote in person, we’ve broken down the answers to some common problems in case you run into any trouble at the polls.
Note: If you have a mail ballot and want to use it to cast your vote, it’s not too late. Just don’t put it in the mail. It’s too late to guarantee that your ballot will be delivered on time through the Postal Service. Instead, take your ballot to your county election office or other county drop off location or drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
What should I do if I show up to my usual polling place and find out that it moved?
Your usual polling place may have moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Pennsylvania, you can find your polling place using the Department of State’s Polling Place Search tool at pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx.
Location changes had to be finalized 20 days before Election Day, and the Polling Place Search tool should be up to date. If your polling location can’t be found after entering your address into the search tool, contact your local election office.
What should I do if my name isn’t in the poll book at my polling place?
First, double check to make sure you’re at the polling location that matches where you’re registered to vote. You can confirm your polling place using the Department of State’s Polling Place Search tool at pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/PollingPlaceInfo.aspx.
If you feel certain that you’re at the right polling place, spell your name out for the poll worker and ask them to check again for your name. If your name still can’t be found, you can vote using a provisional ballot.
Provisional ballots are used when county election officials need more time to determine a voter’s eligibility status. The county board of elections will determine if you were eligible to vote at the election district where you voted, and your vote will be counted within seven days after the election.
What if I signed up to vote by mail but now want to vote in person?
Bring your mail ballot with you when you vote. You must surrender your mail ballot to your polling location. You’re advised to bring your entire mail ballot packet, including both envelopes, but as long as you have the larger declaration envelope, and ballot to be voided, you can cast your vote on a machine.
If you no longer have your mail ballot, or yours never arrived, you can vote by provisional ballot, which will be counted after the county board of elections verifies that you haven’t already voted by mail.
There’s a very long line at my polling place. What if the polls close before I reach the front door?
Statewide polling hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line. You have the right to vote as long as you show up before 8 p.m.
I’m feeling intimidated at the polls. What should I do?
In Pennsylvania, it’s illegal for anyone to intimidate or coerce you to vote for or against a particular candidate or political issue. If you feel intimidated or threatened at the polls, notify a poll worker immediately. Many have been trained on de-escalation tactics, and all poll workers serve to help you move through the polling process smoothly.
If the situation feels life-threatening, don’t hesitate to call 911. You should then call one of the following hotline numbers, which will be open for 24 hours on Election Day.
» READ MORE: What to do if you feel intimidated at the polls.
I need help voting. Can someone assist me at the polls?
If you can’t read or write, aren’t able to read the names on the ballots, have difficulty understanding English, or are blind, disabled, or unable to operate the voting machine, you can bring someone to assist you in the voting process. You will be asked to sign an Assistance Declaration at your polling location, unless the poll book already indicates “assistance permitted.”
What should I do if I sign the poll book and the poll worker says my signature doesn’t match?
In many states, including Pennsylvania, you must sign your name in the poll book at your polling location before casting a ballot. Poll workers verify that your signature matches the one on file with the board of elections. If a poll worker challenges your signature, you can still vote, but you’ll be asked to follow an affidavit process to confirm your identity.
I’ve been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. Can I still vote?
Yes. If you have an unexpected emergency, including if you test positive for the coronavirus or are quarantining at home, you can fill out an Emergency Absentee Ballot at votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx. You must also fill out an authorization form that allows a designated person to drop off this ballot for you. Your Emergency Absentee Ballot must be submitted by 8 p.m. on Tuesday to your county board of elections.
» READ MORE: How to make voting in a pandemic safer
What should I do if I voted by mail but haven’t received confirmation that my mail ballot arrived?
If you included your email address in your mail-in ballot application, you should receive an email notification once your ballot is received. But anyone can track their ballot at pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/BallotTracking.aspx. The “Ballot Received” column tells you the date that your county received your ballot, and the “Status” column tells you if your vote was recorded.
If you have questions about the status of your ballot, you can try calling your local election office, but know that they’re likely receiving a high volume of calls and might not immediately answer. If you dropped off your ballot at a county election office or other official county drop-off location or dropbox, your ballot was received. But the state’s online ballot tracker doesn’t always reflect ballot recordings in real time, said a spokesperson for the City of Philadelphia, and you might see delays.
If you submitted your ballot by mail and are concerned because it’s still not marked as received, you can show up at your local polling place on Tuesday and vote by provisional ballot. The county board of elections will verify if your mail ballot was processed and any duplicates will be voided.