Georgia Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis, who died on July 17, risked his life and went to jail to expand voting rights and to defend the right to vote. We cannot let him down in the most important election of our lives.
Election Day, Nov. 3, will be here before you know it, so it is important to start getting ready. If you haven’t voted in two federal election cycles, you may have been removed from the voter roles. Check your voter registration status at pavoterservices.pa.gov. If you are not registered to vote and have a Pennsylvania driver’s license or a PennDOT ID, you can register online through the same website.
If you don’t have either of these forms of identification, fill out a paper application. These can be downloaded and printed from your computer, or obtained from your state senator or state representative’s office, or from your committee people. If you are already registered to vote but have changed your name, moved or want to change your political affiliation, you must update your voter registration status. This can be completed either online (pavoterservices.pa.gov) or on paper.
We don’t know where we will be in November with respect to the coronavirus pandemic. It may not be safe to vote in person, but you can vote safely by mail.
The first time Pennsylvania could vote by mail was on June 2 for the primary election. There were some problems, to be sure, but it is still the safest way to vote.
You can apply for a mail-in ballot two ways: online or on paper. Go to pavoterservices.pa.gov for the details. The sooner you apply for your mail-in ballot, the better. The mail-in ballot application request must be received by the Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on October 27, but the sooner you submit your application, the better. The completed ballot must be received by your county Board of Elections by 8 p.m. on November 3.
When completing your ballot, be sure to read it thoroughly. Fill it out in black ink and remember to sign it with a signature that matches your signature of record. Put your ballot into the official election ballot (the small envelope) and place this into the mailing envelope (the larger envelope). Don’t forget to sign the voter declaration, print your name and fill in your address on the mailing envelope. Put the ballot in a mailbox and mail it well before the deadline.
If you do wait until the last minute, there were mobile ballot dropoff sites available on the day before the primary and dropoff locations throughout the city on Election Day. These options were not well publicized and were announced just prior to the election.
The ballots will be sent out about 50 days prior to the election. Fill out your ballot and return it; don’t wait until the last minute. You can track your ballot at pavoterservices.pa.gov if you have previously provided your email address.
Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley stated that the major reason for a ballot not being accepted was that the declaration on the outer envelope was not signed. Other reasons for ballots not being counted were ballots being received after the deadline, confusion over the postmark or that the signature on the ballot did not match the signature of record.
As Congressman Lewis said earlier this year, “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble and help redeem the soul of America.” Get in good trouble and vote.
Lori Jardines is one of the Democratic Committee people for Ward 22, Division 3.