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2018 Election Survival Guide...
... OR (ALMOST) EVERYTHING AN INFORMED VOTER NEEDS TO KNOW!
- Election Dates:
- Primary – May 15, 2018
- General – November 6, 2018
- Voting Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Educate yourself as to what offices are on the ballot. This year you will see the following:
- Federal races: U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative
- Statewide races: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Senator in the General Assembly and Representative in the General Assembly
- Countywide races: Member of the State Democratic and Republican Committees (winners decided in primary).
- Precinct-level races: Democratic and Republican Committeeman and Committeewoman (winners decided in primary).
- Voter ID. Those voting for the first time in a new precinct are required to show some form of ID, but it can be anyone of a dozen valid photo or non-photo IDs under the current law and listed here: http://www.votespa.com/en-us/Pages/First-Time-Voter.aspx.
- Haven’t used the county’s touch screen voting system before? A voting tutorial is linked at https://www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us/election/how_to_vote.htm. Or visit the election office for an opportunity to get your hands on a machine.
- Expect lines at certain times of the day, especially first thing in the morning, around lunch time and then after dinner. The shortest waits usually occur late-morning or mid-afternoon.
- Pennsylvania law allows candidates and campaigners to electioneer, pass out campaign materials and talk to you as long as they are 10 feet from the polling room. There is nothing, however, that requires you to answer them or take their materials. But if you do take any campaign literature, please DO NOT leave it in the polling place. You MUST have a clear path to the polling room and if you believe campaigners are impeding or blocking that path, please inform a poll worker.
- Mercer County voters are permitted to wear political attire into the polling place. Voters cannot, however, do or say anything beyond simply wearing the item or they will be asked to leave. Poll workers and poll watchers are not permitted to wear political attire.
- Electronic recording or photo devices are not permitted to be used in precincts.
- ALL voters in line at 8 p.m. – even if that line stretches outside the building – are permitted by law to vote. If you are NOT in line at 8 p.m. when the Judge of Elections announces the polls are closed, you are NOT allowed to vote.
- Election returns will be posted as they arrive at the courthouse on the county’s Web site at www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us.
PETITION INFORMATION FOR CANDIDATES
- The first day to circulate and file a petition for Republicans and Democrats is February 13, 2018. The last day to circulate and file a petition is March 6, 2018. Packets for local candidates will be available in the election office beginning February 7, 2018.
- The first day to circulate and file nominating papers for minor party and independent candidates is March 7, 2018. The last day to circulate and file nominating papers is August 1, 2018. Packets for those candidates will be available in the county’s election office beginning March 8, 2018.
- Voter Registration Deadlines:
- Primary – April 16, 2018
- General – October 9, 2018
- If you have moved since you last voted, you need to register at your current address. If your name has changed as a result of marital status or some other reason, you need to register under your new name. This can be done online or by filling out and submitting a new Voter Registration Mail Application to the Bureau of Elections, 5 Courthouse, Mercer, PA, 16137. Both can be found at www.votespa.com.
- If you haven’t voted in more than five years, it is possible your voting status has been made inactive or canceled. If you are inactive, you can vote but you are required to show a proper form of identification and sign an affirmation.
- If you have been canceled, you must register again by the registration deadline.
- If you have any question about your voting status, it’s worth the time needed to check on it. Stop in the election office at the courthouse or call us at 724-662-7542. Our hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
- If you are going to be out of the precinct on Election Day or you have an illness or disability that prevents you from going to the polls, you can vote by absentee ballot. Applications are available at post offices, municipal buildings and libraries in the county, as well as online at the county’s Web site or by calling the election office.
- The deadline to apply for a regular absentee ballot for the primary is May 8, 2018, and the ballot must be returned to the election office by 5 p.m. May 11, 2018. The deadline to apply for a regular absentee ballot for the general election is October 30, 2018, and the ballot must be returned to the election office by 5 p.m. November 2, 2018. Voters should mail all items more than a week before any deadline to ensure timely delivery.
- You can check your polling place location online at the county’s Web site: www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us. Click on Voter Registration/Elections at left and look for a link to polling locations. There are also precinct maps.