Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Just over a million people in Philadelphia are registered to vote. That number seems big — it’s about 85% of eligible residents — but it’s actually fewer than were registered at this time in 2020.

With a big presidential contest looming, that year saw record voter registration in Philly. But midterm and local elections carry just as much significance for day-to-day life, if not more.

Registering to vote is the first step to participating in democracy and having a say in your community.

It’s pretty easy to do. Here’s everything you need to know.

Can you register online?

Click right here to access the Pa. Department of State’s online registration form.

You can also register by mail. Print out a registration form — found here — and mail it to Philly’s voter registration office (520 N. Columbus Blvd.). To be valid, the form has to be received by the office on the deadline, Oct. 24.

What documents do I need?

Voter registration is open to U.S. citizens, and you’ll need to have some identification.

That could be a Pa. driver’s license or PennDOT ID card. If you don’t have either one, you can use your Social Security number.

When is the deadline?

The deadline to register to vote is usually a couple weeks before the election.

To cast a ballot in the 2022 general election on Nov. 8, you’ve gotta be registered by Monday, Oct. 24.

I’m not sure if I’m registered, how can I check?

The Pennsylvania Department of State has an online portal that can be used to check your registration status, click here.

Can I register in person?

To register to vote in person, you’ll have to make it down to Phildelphia’s voter registration office on Delaware Avenue (officially 520 N. Columbus Blvd.), on the fifth floor of the Riverview Place office building. You can also register at any PennDOT photo or driver’s license center.

I just moved, can I register?

Yes. Whether you moved from a different part of Pennsylvania or the county, you’ll fill out the same registration form as new voters.

You can vote in Philadelphia if you’ve been a city resident at least 30 days before the election (in this case, since Oct. 8).

If you’re newer to the city than that, you cannot vote in Philly this fall — instead, you can vote via absentee ballot at your previous place of residence.

What about switching party affiliation?

If you want to change or add party affiliation — perhaps to vote in one of Pa.’s closed primaries — you have to refile a standard voter registration form with the change made in the “Political party” section.

Can I register if I’m 17?

The answer here is a qualified “yes”: You can register IF you will be of voting age (at least 18 years old) by Election Day.

I was incarcerated, how does that change things?

In Pennsylvania, formerly incarcerated people are generally eligible to vote. You can vote if you’re detained pre-trial, on parole, on house arrest — or even if you’re currently behind bars but set to be released before the date of the election. For the last case, you must register by mail or online.

The Philadelphia City Commissioners have more details for previously or currently incarcerated voters, but here is who explicitly cannot vote of this group of people:

  • If you are incarcerated for a felony and will not be released until after the next election. This includes if you are also incarcerated for one or more misdemeanor offenses.
  • If you are in a halfway house or any other alternative correctional facility on pre-release status for a felony and will not be released until after the next election.
  • If you were convicted of violating any provision of the Pennsylvania Election Code in the last four years.

Jordan Levy is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn, always aiming to help Philadelphians share their stories. Formerly, he has worked at Document Journal, n+1 Magazine, and The New Republic. He...