Voter Information - 2022
The official Pennsylvania website for election and voter information is www.vote.pa.gov If you have any questions, please call
The Chester County Voter Services information is accessible online (https://www.chesco.org/156/Voter-Services) or the office can be reached at (610) 344-6410. Chester County specimen ballots will be available when Nominating Petitions have closed.
Check Your Registration Status?
Not sure if you are registered? Check your registration status (https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/voterregistrationstatus.aspx).
Are You Planning to Vote by Mail?
The Tuesday before the Election is the last day to apply for a Mail-in or Civilian Absentee Ballot. Applications must be received by Chester County Voter Services by 5 p.m. on that Tuesday.
Any registered voter may request a Mail-in Ballot. Absentee Ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from voting in person at their polling place, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.
You can apply for either:
• Online (https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/OnlineAbsenteeApplication/#/OnlineAbsenteeBegin). At this late date and because of postal delays, visiting Voter Services is your best chance of getting a Mail-in Ballot in time.
• In-person at the Chester County Voter Services Office located at 601 Westtown Rd, Suite 150 in West Chester. Once the ballot is finalized and available, you may request and promptly receive your mail-in ballot.
While applying, you should also consider being added to the annual mail-in ballot request list where you'll receive an application to renew your mail-in ballot request each year. More info on the difference between a mail-in ballot application and an actual mail-in ballot.
Do You Know How to Fill Out Your Mail-In Ballot?
• Read the instructions carefully.
• Fill out the ballot. Complete both sides of each page and be sure to follow instructions on how to mark selections.
• Seal the ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope that indicates "official ballot." Make sure not to make any stray marks on the envelope.
• Then seal the inner secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope which you must sign.
• Complete and sign the voter's declaration on the outside of the outer return envelope.
• For the ballot to be counted, it must be enclosed in both envelopes and you must sign the outer envelope.
Once completed, you can hand-deliver your ballot to the Chester County Voter Services Office located at 601 Westtown Rd, Suite 150 in West Chester or one of the secure drop-box locations to be identified.
Or you can mail the ballot, using the return envelope supplied with it. In 2021, Chester County Ballots can be returned in the supplied post-paid envelope. Please make sure you MAIL your Ballot by EARLY ENOUGH so that it has ample time to arrive at Chester County Voter Services by 8 pm on Election Day. Postmarks do not count. If your ballot is not received by the county election board by that time, it will not count.
Are You Planning to Vote Early?
If you are a registered Pennsylvania voter, you can use the early, in-person voting option. The Tuesday before the Election is the last day to vote early in-person in the Election.
You can now vote and cast your mail-in or absentee ballot all in one visit the Chester County Voter Services Office located at 601 Westtown Rd, Suite 150 in West Chester. With this option, there is no need for mail at all, and you can cast your vote at your convenience. You will need your PennDOT ID number or the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. Please refer to the list of ID requirements for mail-in or absentee ballots for more information.
Are You Planning to Vote by Dropbox?
Chester County has several, secure ballot drop-off sites located around the county. All locations are available through Election Day,
You can view a listing with hours and availability or a map to search for a convenient location near you. All drop-off locations will be open on Election Day from 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. The deadline to drop off mail-in and absentee ballots is no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Are You Planning to Vote In-Person on Election Day?
• Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
• Find your polling place (https://www.chesco.org/DocumentCenter/View/64380/2021_General_Polling_Places_Chester_County).
Are You Voting in-Person for the First Time?
The first time you vote, you must bring a photo or non-photo ID.
In addition, it may be helpful to see how Chester County’s in-person voting system works ahead of time.
THE ORIGINS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA MAIL-IN-BALLOT
All About Act 77 of 2019 and Changes That Affect You
What is Act 77?
On October 31, 2019, Governor Wolf signed Act 77 of 2019 into law. Act 77 makes voting more secure and more convenient for all Pennsylvanians eligible to vote. The majority of voters can now cast their vote by mail-in ballot, and will have more time to cast their mail-in or absentee ballot than before. Pennsylvanians who are not yet registered but eligible to do so will have additional time to register to vote for the upcoming election.
Learn more below about key changes that may affect you:
NO-EXCUSE MAIL-IN VOTING
Thanks to Governor Wolf’s bipartisan efforts, all Pennsylvanians registered to vote can now cast their ballot by mail.
You do not need to provide a reason or excuse if you’d like to vote by mail-in ballot.
You can request to be placed on a permanent mail-in voter list.
If you elect to be placed on this list, your county will mail you an application for a mail-in ballot every year by the first Monday of February. If you return that application, they will mail you a ballot for all elections that year, including Primary, Special, and the General Election.
This DOES NOT mean that they will automatically mail you a ballot every year. You MUST return the application to receive that year’s ballots. The link to the BALLOT APPLICATION: https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/OnlineAbsenteeApplication/#/OnlineAbsenteeBegin
MAIL-IN-VOTING IN PA
If you request a mail-in ballot, you can vote and return your ballot up to 50 days before the upcoming election. Your ballot may be returned to your county Voter Services anytime between the time you receive it and 8 PM on Election Day. We strongly suggest returning your ballot soon after you receive it!
NO MORE STRAIGHT PARTY VOTING
There is no longer a straight-party option on ballots. If you wish to cast a vote for any Democratic Candidate, you MUST select their name on the ballot to ensure that your vote is counted. We suggest starting at the bottom of your ballot and moving up.
EXTENDED VOTER REGISTRATION PERIOD
You can now register to vote up to 14 days before an election! We suggest registering as soon as possible — the earlier, the better!
Learn more and register to vote here.
Reach out to your county office of voter/election services here:
Chester County Voter Services: (610) 344-6410; Website
Berks County Election Services: (610) 478-6490; Website
Duties of County and Local Officials
Compiled by Victor Sheronas, ENDC Volunteer
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
In Pennsylvania, a Court of Common Pleas is a trial court of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania (the state court system). They hear civil cases with a significant focus on trials for serious crimes. They have original jurisdiction over all cases not exclusively assigned to another court and appellate jurisdiction over judgments from the minor courts (which include the magisterial district courts in all counties but Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Municipal Court and Pittsburgh Municipal Court). They also hear appeals from certain state and most local government agencies.
The courts are established by the Pennsylvania Constitution: "There shall be one court of common pleas for each judicial district (a) having such divisions and consisting of such number of judges as shall be provided by law, one of whom shall be the president judge; and (b) having unlimited original jurisdiction in all cases except as may otherwise be provided by law." The Courts of Common Pleas are organized into 60 judicial districts, 53 comprising one of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, and seven comprising two counties.
Each district has from one to 101 judges. Judges of the Common Pleas courts are elected to 10-year terms. A president judge and a court administrator serve in each judicial district. In districts with seven or fewer judges, the president judge with the longest continuous service holds this position. In districts with eight or more judges, the president judge is elected to a five-year term by the court.
The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County is a general jurisdiction trial court located in West Chester, Pennsylvania. There are 11 full time judges and 2 senior judges. The judges hear a wide spectrum of cases, including adult and juvenile criminal prosecutions, lawsuits involving money or property, divorce, custody disputes, child support issues, adoptions, and estates. In addition to court staff and Court Administration, the court supervises Adult Probation, Juvenile Probation, Domestic Relations, Bail Agency, Court Reporters, and the Law Library. The Court oversees and provides administrative services to the 17 magisterial district court offices that comprise the Magisterial District Court system in Chester County.
The three-member Board of Commissioners constitutes the chief governing body of the County. The Board, together with its executive staff, manages a large and diverse organization whose mission is to provide quality government services in an efficient, cost effective manner. Elected every four years, the Commissioners are responsible for policy-making, fiscal management and the administration of county affairs.
The Commissioners serve on the Salary, Prison, Retirement, and Election Boards as well as a variety of other boards affiliated with county departments. They appoint members of county authorities, boards and commissions, such as the Solid Waste Authority, the Industrial Development Authority and the Airport Authority.
The Commissioners create and appoint constituency-based groups that provide guidance in tackling issues of great impact and concern to taxpayers.
County District Attorney
The core functions of the District Attorney’s Office are to investigate, prosecute, and prevent crimes. The Chester County District Attorney is the chief law enforcement officer for the county. Within the county, we have over 50 law enforcement agencies working together, including municipal police departments, the Pennsylvania State Police, federal agencies, and the Chester County Detectives. It is our duty to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Constitution of the United States of America.
As a county officer, the sheriff has law enforcement authority throughout their county, including its cities, villages, and townships. The sheriff’s primary responsibilities are: the maintenance of law and order in areas of the county not adequately policed by local authorities and to respond to the law and order needs of citizens within local jurisdictions if local law enforcement is unable to do so. Additional duties include the maintenance of county jails, providing security for county courts, and serving warrants and court papers, etc.
In Pennsylvania, the "Court Clerk" (Clerk of the Courts) is usually dealing specifically with the Criminal Court, while the Prothonotary is involved with non-criminal court records and filings, exclusive of property deed recording and wills (and marriage licenses) - in other words, the keeper of the civil records for the court. Work is generated from the court and through filings from both attorneys and the general public. For example, name changes, civil and family court records, passports, judgments and liens will be handled or have corresponding records administered by the Prothonotary.
The Prothonotary also provides the avenue for external oversight of the Judiciary without the legislative or executive branch of government's interference with its actions or independence. This elected official preserves for the public unfettered access to a fair and accurate record of opinions, decisions and judgments of the court.
County Register of Wills
The Register of Wills probates wills and appoints estate representatives for decedents who die with or without a will. Regardless of where the death occurred, the decedent MUST have been a legal resident of Chester County at the time of death. The Register of Wills also serves as an agent for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the filing and payment of inheritance taxes. Additionally, as Clerk of the Orphans Court, the Register of Wills oversees guardianships, adoptions and marriage licenses.
County Recorder of Deeds
The Recorder of Deeds is the elected county official responsible for the public repository of real estate records, military discharges, commissions and official documents. The Office of the Recorder of Deeds is an important interface between taxpayers, real estate professionals and county government.
OJR School Director at Large
A school board is a legislative body of citizens called school directors, who are elected locally by their fellow citizens and who serve as the governing body of each public school district. School districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are governmental units considered “political subdivisions.” Because school districts are created by statute, they and their governing bodies are regarded as “creatures of the General Assembly” (our state legislature), and, as such, they function in a sense as agents of the Commonwealth. Each board consists of nine members who serve four-year terms of office. Unlike most other elected officials, school directors receive no compensation for their work even though the position can require them to dedicate many hours to it.
School Directors are responsible for:
·Setting budget priorities, so as to provide the tools and experience for students engage with the world they’ll be entering.
·Making curriculum decisions so as to help students become better informed citizens.
·Planning for the future by understanding the district’s growth and the resultant tax rate; plus ensuring the resources are available to accommodate the growth.
·Setting school safety policies.
·Determining student and faculty policy regarding civil liberty issues and hiring practices.
School director elections are held every two years, on a 5-4 rotation to ensure continuity. All board members are elected to four-year terms. While school directors are elected locally, the state constitution delegates to them the responsibility to administer the school system as agents of the General Assembly. Keep in mind that the school board’s conduct is a direct reflection on the community values.
East Nantmeal Township Supervisor (example)
Township supervisors are responsible for maintaining and improving their community. A board of three supervisors, elected at large for six-year terms as the township’s legislative body, enacts ordinances, adopts budgets, and levies taxes. Because there is no separately elected executive in East Nantmeal, the supervisors also perform such functions as enforcing ordinances, approving expenditures, and hiring employees. Supervisors also perform administrative functions such as maintaining records, dealing with personnel matters, purchasing & contracting, making appointments (manager, secretary, emergency management coordinator, boards-commissions, solicitors), agendas & minutes, etc.
By design, the structure of township government is flexible. It allows supervisors to determine what services best meet the needs of their constituents; and to provide these services with no intervening layers of bureaucracy. In addition to maintaining roads and bridges, their role includes public safety, land use, and environmental protection, among many other responsibilities. Township supervisors reflect the values of the people they serve.
East Nantmeal Township Auditor (example)
Briefly, the auditor will:
·Audit and settle all accounts of any persons elected or appointed who work for the township.
·Determine the salary of township supervisors.
·Complete, file, and publish the Annual Township Report and Financial Statement.
The auditor examines the accounting records and accounting practices of the township to enable her/him to express an informed opinion as to whether or not the balance sheet and the statement of revenues and expenditures prepared from the books and records present accurately and fairly the financial position and the results of operations of the township, and whether the township complied with applicable laws and regulations. The independent review by the auditor includes judgments as to facts, supporting evidence, and adherence to generally accepted accounting principles applied consistently from year to year.
In addition to these broad assignments, the auditor should be alert to possible irregularities and fraud, as well as weaknesses in internal control. It is important for the auditor to inform the responsible officials about such weaknesses when they are discovered.
In boroughs which have not established the office of controller, nor employed an independent auditor, three auditors are elected for a term of six years. One auditor is elected at each municipal election, providing for overlapping membership on the board.