Voter Information - 2021
Mail-in-Voting and Voter Registration Information
CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION STATUS
If you are not sure if you are Registered to Vote, you can check your status via the link below.
REGISTER TO VOTE
If you are not Registered to Vote, please use the link below before May 3rd to register online and be able to vote in the May 18th Primary. You will NEED your PA DRIVER’S LICENSE or PA IDENTIFICATION NUMBER, your NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER and EMAIL address.
RENEW YOUR MAIL-IN-BALLOT FOR 2021
If you voted by Mail-in-Ballot in 2020 and want to again vote by Mail-in-Ballot this year, you should have received a Mail-in-Ballot Renewal Form in the mail. You must complete the Renewal Form and mail it back to Voter Services or follow the instructions on the form and go online to RENEW your Mail-in-Ballot status for 2021. Although the deadline is May 11th, because of mail delays, please make sure you act on the request immediately.
If you DID NOT receive your Mail-in-Ballot Renewal Form in the mail, please follow the instructions below for ONLINE APPLICATION FOR MAIL-IN-BALLOT or MAIL-IN APPLICATION FOR MAIL-IN-BALLOT.
ONLINE APPLICATION FOR MAIL-IN-BALLOT
Registered voters in PA can register online for a Mail-In-Ballot ahead of the State’s May 18th Primary Election using the link below. Although the deadline is May 11th, because of mail delays, please make sure you act on the request immediately.
MAIL-IN APPLICATION FOR MAIL-IN-BALLOT
Registered voters in PA can request a Mail-In-Ballot for the State’s May 18th Primary Election by following the two steps below. Although the deadline is May 11th, because of mail delays, please make sure you act on the request immediately:
First: Download the Mail-in-Ballot Application by using the link below.
Second: Print and complete the application and mail it to your County Office as soon as possible to insure receipt of the Mail-in-Ballot and enough time for you to return the completed ballot to Voter Services before the election. If your application is accepted, you will get a mail-in-ballot with instructions from your County Election Office. A link to the list of County Election Offices is below.
YOUR MAIL-IN-BALLOT DEADLINE IS MAY 11TH
GIVEN MAIL DELAYS, PLEASE PUT YOUR MAIL-IN-BALLOT IN THE MAIL BY MAY 4TH
MAILING BACK YOUR MAIL-IN-BALLOT
Follow the instructions received to mark your ballot! Using the envelopes provided, place your ballot in the Secrecy Envelope and then place the Secrecy Envelope into the Official Envelope. Make sure to sign the form and mail your Mail-in-Ballot as soon as it arrives to make sure your County Election Office receives it before May 11th. For the Primary, do not bring your Mail-In-Ballot to the Polling location. The Judge of Elections will take your Mail-In-Ballot and replace it with a Provisional Ballot. For the General Election, you can take your Mail-in-Ballot and use it to vote.
VOTE IN PERSON
To Vote in Person for the Primary Election, May 18th, the polls are open from 7 AM to 8 PM. Find the location of your Polling location via the link below.
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.