HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – September is National Voter Registration Month, and with some high-profile races in this year’s general election, state officials are trying to get every eligible voter registered.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State (DOS), there are roughly 1.7 million Pennsylvanians eligible to vote, but who are not yet registered. Officials are trying to reduce that number, which largely consists of younger adults and first-time voters.
“In Pennsylvania, when you look at young voters, which is usually 18 to 24, we’re behind when it comes to voter registration rates. The ones that we really need to register are the ones that are newly 18, the ones that this is their first election where they can participate,” said Acting State Secretary Leigh Chapman.
Throughout the month of September, Chapman and the State Department have led efforts to show college students and younger eligible voters how to register. They’re also reminding everybody of important deadlines, like the upcoming Oct. 24 deadline to register.
If you plan to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot, the deadline for your county elections office to receive your application is five o’clock in the evening Nov. 1. Once you receive your absentee or mail-in, it must be completed and received by your county election board no later than when polls close at eight o’clock election night.
State officials expect a large turnout this year, and a large number of mail ballots. Local election officials are unable to begin opening mail-in ballots until Election Day in Pennsylvania, so officials say it may be a few days before all the results are in.
“County election offices aren’t allowed to start opening those mail in ballots and going through them until 7 a.m. on Election Day. So, because we don’t have pre-canvasing like other states, like Florida- they have weeks to start pre-processing those mail in ballots – it’s going to take some time,” said Chapman.
As of this afternoon, DOS announced there have been over one million requests for mail-in ballots. That number will likely increase before the Nov. 1 deadline, so officials are asking for patience as they ensure every vote is counted.
Click here to check your voter registration status in Pennsylvania. You can also find your county election board here. For additional information, deadlines, and instructions visit the DOS Voting and Election Information webpage here.