Voting Basics

By Chris Hunsinger, Second Vice President

If you are not happy with your political representation, you can have a hand in changing it by voting. It is Election Day on November 6, 2018.

I couldn’t possibly list all the local races on each member’s ballot, but in Pennsylvania we will be voting in several state and federal contests. We will be voting for one of our U.S. Senate seats, as Robert Casey, Jr. seeks a third term in that office. We are also voting for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. All the members of the U.S. House of representatives are up for election. Pennsylvania has a new District map for this election, so your Federal Election District for the House of Representatives may have changed.

When I checked with the Allegheny County representatives about how many elections a person would have to miss before the voter’s registration becomes inactive, I was told that a voter’s name couldn’t be taken off the voting rolls unless he or she misses more than five years of voting. That isn’t a county rule. It’s true throughout the state. Of course, voters need to be sure that the address on file is current. With the stories in other states about purging voter rolls, it wouldn’t hurt to check your registration to be sure it is active. You can do this through your County Board of Elections or online at VotesPA.com. If you need to register or re-register as the case may be, the deadline to do so is October 9, 2018 to vote in this November’s election. You can register online at the VotesPA.com website.

You can even start the process for getting an absentee ballot on this website or locate the address and phone number of your county Board of Elections. Requests for absentee Ballots must be at the Board of elections by October 30, 2018 this year. The completed absentee ballot must then be at the Board of Elections by November 2, 2018. There are two different kinds of Emergency Absentee Ballots that people may qualify for if they miss the other deadlines. They require even more forms and hoops to jump through. Since most of us can’t fill out the inaccessible absentee ballot ourselves, there is an additional form that the person assisting us with the ballot must complete.

This is not a comprehensive voting primer, but hopefully I’ve provided you with some useful information, so you can address your voting needs. I invite you to join me for our next Advocacy for All Call on Monday, October 29 when we will discuss various candidates’ records on disability policy. We will also cover the latest on Pennsylvania’s transition to new voting machines and their accessibility. The call begins at 7:30 p.m. on our teleconference line: 605-475-4715 or 844-844-0414 for the toll-free connection. Enter our discussion room by using pass code 815419#.

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