Patricia A. O'Malley

Social Policy & Programs Consulting

Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice

Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting    ~    Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803    ~    Pittsburgh, PA  15227   ~    412-310-4886    ~
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley    ~    All rights reserved
Established 1993

2020 Allegheny County General Election Voting Information
The Pennsylvania Voting Reform Act made some changes.
The campaigns and the parties hide this information from the voters.

​September 28, 2020


For nearly 40 years, I’ve called thousands of voters as an election campaign volunteer.  I spent most of my time hanging up on answering machines because the campaign staffers think their job is to produce phone calls.  It’s not.  Their job is to produce votes.  They don’t know the difference.  You have a right to know this stuff.  Please share it widely.

Voters ask questions about registration and voting details.  When volunteers can’t answer their questions because they don’t know, we lose votes.  A few elections ago, I wrote a guide.  The campaigns won’t use it.  They say it's not the "right font", or the "right card stock".   Yes, they really said that.

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee is supposed to organize all party activities assist in candidates' campaigns, and encourage voting.  The Committee has a “Voter Resources” page on its website.  It’s empty;  there’s not one word on it.  When I called to ask about it, their staffer said “Eileen’s computer isn’t working.”

So.  In the most important election in American history, the Allegheny County Democrats don’t have any information about voting.  Because Committee Chair Eileen Kelly is too lazy to do her job.
And they can’t figure out why people are angry. 

Pennsylvania’s new Voting Reform Act, Act 77 of 2019, makes voting easier for everyone. 
The rules about polling places and mail voting changed a handful of times recently.  This is the status at this writing. 

Look at the links below for the most recent information.

Feel free to print this article, make as many copies as you like, and share it with your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.  

If you want a one-page summary flyer, message me at the link below and I’ll email it to you.


  • Tuesday, November 3, 2020


  • November 3 is a General Election.
  • In a GENERAL election, any voter can vote for any candidate for any office. 
    You do not have to vote for the candidate from the party in which you are registered. 


  • The Allegheny County Election Division manages all aspects of voting in the county.
  • Their website has a lot of information about the process, rules, deadlines, etc.
  • Contact them to apply for Absentee or Mail-in Ballots, or for voter registration forms, polling places,  questions, and complaints.

Allegheny County Elections Division

604 County Office Building, 542 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15219
Phone: 412-350-4500     Fax: 412-350-5697


  • To vote in Pennsylvania, you must:

        -- Be a U.S. citizen and a state resident for at least 30 days  before the election.
        -- Be at least 18 years old no later than Election Day.  November 4 is too late. 

  • Registration forms must be postmarked by, or IN THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY ELECTION OFFICE, no later than 5:00 PM, on Monday, October 19, 2020.
  • Homeless people can vote.  They need an address.  They do not need a residence.
  • They can use a shelter, community organization, friend, relative, or any other address with permission. 
    They vote in the district where their address is located.

  • Get voter registration forms at many government offices, state liquor stores, community organizations, and the Allegheny County Elections Division.
  • You can register and verify your registration status online at Votes PA.


  • All polling places will follow state and local rules about masking and social distancing. 
  • Take a mask with you.
  • Open continuously 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM – they do not close for breaks.
  • If you are in line by 8:00 PM, you will be permitted to vote. 
  • If it’s past 8:00 PM, STAY IN LINE UNTIL YOU VOTE.
  • Most of the county’s 2019 standard polling places will be open for this election. 
  • You can verify your polling place at the link below.


  • Tuesday, October 27, 2020 is the last day to request an Absentee or Mail-in Ballot.
  • If you are absent or disabled, you can use an Absentee Ballot.
  • If you don’t qualify for an Absentee Ballot, anyone can use a Mail-in Ballot.
  • Otherwise, there isn’t much difference between them.
  • There are special rules for military and overseas ballots.  See the link below.
  • If you’re not sure which ballot to use, see the link below.

There’s been a lot of noise about mail-in ballots – some accurate, some not.

According to the Allegheny County Elections Division site, if you received a mail ballot but changed your mind and now want to vote in person:
As ballots have now been finalized and are going out, it is no longer possible to cancel an application for a mail-in ballot. You can, however, still vote in person at your polling place by taking the entire ballot packet (ballot plus envelopes) to your polling place, giving it to the poll workers and asking that your mail-in or absentee ballot be spoiled. Once that's done, you can vote as you normally would. 

  • Be sure to follow all of the instructions for completing and returning your ballot.
  • You can not deliver your voted ballot to your regular polling place.
  • You can return your mail-in ballot to the Election Division in person no later than 8:00 PM on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
  • Each voter must return her/his own ballot.  You can not deliver any ballots other than your own.

  • The county Board of Elections approved several sites where voters can return completed ballots.
  • You can find that list on the Elections Division website.

  • All Absentee and Mail-in Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, November 3, 2020 and received at the Allegheny County Election Division by Friday, November 6, 2020.


  • You have the right to vote.  As long as you’re registered, no one can prevent you from voting. 
  • No one can threaten or harass you, or force you to vote for anyone.
  • You can not be fired or evicted for voting.
  • If you are a convicted felon, you can register to vote again after you are released from prison, even if you are still on probation or parole.  If your feet are on the street, you can vote.
  • If you are in jail, but have not yet been convicted of a crime, YOU CAN REGISTER AND VOTE. ​Get an Absentee Ballot.

  • You can take notes, campaign materials, purse/briefcase, and your cell phone into the voting booth with you, but you must take all of your stuff with you when you leave.
  • In the past, you were permitted to take one child into the booth with you.  I can’t find any information that the rule has changed due to COVID.
  • If you need help voting because you are blind, disabled, or unable to read or write, you can get help from the person of your choice, other than from your employer or union, or someone that the employer or union chooses. 
  • If you have special needs, Election Inspectors and Clerks can help you to vote.


  • If the poll workers won’t let you vote, ask them for a provisional ballot. 
  • The county election division will review your situation.  If you qualify as a voter, your vote will count.
  • If you still can’t vote, call the PA Dept. of State at 877-VOTES-PA (877-868-3772)
  • Or call Election Protection, a nonpartisan organization, at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
  • Or file a complaint at the link below.

In this election, we are voting to choose:

  • The President and Vice President of the United States,
  • All members of the US House of Representatives, including your local congress member,
  • The 33 Senate seats in Class II.  Neither of Pennsylvania’s senators is up for election this year. 

  • Pennsylvania Auditor General, Attorney General, and Treasurer.

You can view sample ballots and locate the polling place for your voting district at the link below, as soon as the county posts the final ballot format.


  • Act 77 requires the state to purchase and provide new voting machines.
  • You will receive a paper ballot.
  • Complete your ballot and then insert it into a scanning machine.
  • The machine will read, record, and tabulate your votes.
  • Don’t worry.  If you can use an ATM machine, you can use a new voting machine.
  • You can see a short video on the new machines at the link below


  • You must show ID ONLY IF this is the first time you will vote at this polling place.

Approved forms of photo ID

  • Remember, the ID must be valid and not expired.

  • PA driver’s license or ID card issued by PennDOT
  • ID issued by any other Commonwealth agency
  • ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Armed Forces ID
  • Student ID
  • Employee ID

Approved forms of non-photo ID

  • The ID must include the name and address of the voter.

  • Voter’s identification card issued by the voter registration commission
  • Non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth
  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill
  • Current bank statement
  • Current paycheck or Government check


  • The county Board of Elections will post the results after they verify and certify every vote.
  • That will take about a month.
  • You can see the results at the link below.

​​People died to protect your right to vote. 
Please remember them as you cast your ballot.

RIP Rep. John Lewis

Act 77 Voting Reforms
Allegheny County Elections Division
File a Voting Complaint
All Pennsylvania Voting Information – Votes PA
Find Your Polling Place in Allegheny County
View a Sample Ballot
2020 PA Election Calendar
Absentee or Mail-in Ballot?
New Voting Machines
Election Results

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