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Registration, mail-in deadlines are approaching

Primary elections in Pennsylvania are often the sole domain of those who are registered in one of our two major political parties.

The primary gives voters the chance to have input into those parties’ nominees — who will be on the ballot in November.

This May, voters who are registered as something other than Republican or Democrat can go to the polls and do something more than be turned away. There are three state-wide questions related to constitutional amendments, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

There is also one state-wide referendum on the ballot, according to Warren County Director of Elections Lisa Rivett.

“Those voters who are not registered as Democratic or Republican will only see the ballot questions when they vote,” Rivett said. “For those who are Democratic or Republican, these voters will see the ballot questions in addition to what they would normally see.”

Only those who are registered may vote. According to Rivett, the deadline to register to be eligible to vote on May 18 is Monday, May 3.

“I encourage all eligible voters to make sure that they are registered, and their information is up to date,” Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said. “Municipal elections give residents the opportunity to select the local leaders who make decisions that affect our daily lives. It’s easy to register to vote or update your registration online.”

While it is not a presidential-election year, there are many seats up for election.

“On May 18, voters who are registered as Republican or Democrat will choose their parties’ nominees for seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court, county Common Pleas Courts, and Philadelphia Municipal Court,” Degraffenreid said. “Also on the party ballots will be a wide variety of county, school board, and local seats such as mayor, city or borough council member, township commissioner or supervisor, magisterial district judges, and precinct election officials.”

Five Warren County row office posts – Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts, District Attorney, Coroner, Register and Recorder, and Sheriff – are up for election, according to Rivett. Only the Register and Recorder position has a primary race – three Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring.

The in-person voting restrictions related to COVID-19 will not change. Rivett said the same safeguards in place during the November election will be used in the primary.

Those who don’t wish to go to the polls in person have options.

“Mail in voting as well as absentee voting is happening,” she said. “If a voter was marked as ‘perm’ they were sent a mailing in February. In this mailing was the application to apply for a ballot and a ‘request to cancel my voter status.'”

“Those who did not want to stay on the permanent list needed to complete the “cancel” and return it to us,” she said. “They were then taken off the ‘perm’ status and will not receive this mailing next year.”

“Those who wished to could complete the application and mail it back to us,” Rivett said. “These voters would stay with the ‘perm’ status and receive the mailing next year.”

“The applications are good for the primary and general election this year,” she said. “Once we receive the final certification from DOS, we will begin to mail the absentee and mail-in ballots that we have applications for.”

The deadline to apply to vote by mail or absentee is Tuesday, May 11, Rivett said. Main-in and civilian absentee ballots must be received – not postmarked – by 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 18. Military and overseas civilian absentee ballots must be submitted for delivery before Election Day and must be received no later than Tuesday, May 25.

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