UPDATE: Click here for our guide to the 2022 Primary Election in Pennsylvania.
From mail-in ballot details (be sure to drop yours off) to ballot questions, here are a few things to know for Election Day!
⭐️ Pittsburgh Primary Election Day Date & Times
📅 DATE: Election Day is Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
🕖 TIMES: The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
❓ How do I vote for the Mayor of Pittsburgh?
The four candidates that are running for mayor are all Democrats.
- 🔲 Tony Moreno
- 🔲 Michael Thompson
- 🔲 William Peduto
- 🔲 Edward C. Gainey
To vote for one of these candidates you MUST be a registered Democrat. It is a little confusing, in the general election (held in November), you are able to vote for both Democratic and Republican candidates. In Pennsylvania, for the primary elections, you can only vote for the candidates that are on the ballot for the party that matches the party on your voter registration.
For example, if you are registered as an independent, you will not be able to vote for any of the mayoral candidates because the candidates are only on the democratic ballot. You can change your party of registration before elections, but it must be done before the voter registration deadline.
From the VotesPA.org website:
In Pennsylvania, you can only vote for the candidates in the same political party you have named in your voter registration. For example, if you registered to vote as a member of the Republican Party then you can vote in the Republican primary, but not the Democratic primary.
All voters can vote on constitutional amendments, ballot questions, and any special election contests held at the same time as a primary election.
☑ What else is on the primary ballot?
- ➡️ City Council District 2, District 4, and District 9 – check out the City Paper article for an overview of the districts and candidates.
- ➡️ Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judges – there are nine open seats and 39 candidates are running. The City Paper has a helpful chart that shows you which candidates have received endorsements.
- ➡️ State ballot questions: disaster declarations, discrimination and loans to EMS and fire departments. Spotlight PA has a breakdown of the state ballot measures.
- ➡️ County ballot questions: no-knock warrants and solitary confinement. For the county ballot questions, check out the guide from the City Paper.
- ➡️ There are 12 candidates running for five different seats on the Pittsburgh School Board. Vote School Board First.org has a list of the districts and profiles on each of the candidates.
If you live outside of the city limits, several municipalities and boroughs are holding elections for mayor and council positions. You can use Allegheny County’s website to see a sample ballot here.
📍 How to find your polling location in Pittsburgh & Allegheny County
Are you planning to vote in person?
All of the 1323 polling locations in Allegheny County will be open for voting on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
📍 You can find your polling place by clicking here.
If you’ve voted at your current polling place before, you don’t need to show any identification. If it’s your first time voting at your current polling place, you will need to show some type of identification such as a driver’s license, passport or student ID. The identification you show does not need to have a photo.
Are you planning to vote by mail?
Scroll down for the details.
ℹ️ New voting machines
In 2020, Allegheny County started using new voting machines where you will need to fill out a paper ballot and insert it into the voting machine.
You can find step-by-step instructions on the voting systems here or watch this video on YouTube for a brief tutorial.
ℹ️ What you need to know before you go to vote
- 🏠 Are you registered to vote at your current address? You can check your voter registration status online or call 1-877-VOTESPA.
📬 What about voting by mail? Absentee ballots?
To vote by mail, you had to apply for a mail-in ballot (or apply for an absentee ballot). The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot was May 11, 2021, at 5 p.m.
If you have not applied for a mail-in ballot: You are not able to vote by mail, you will need to go to your polling location on May 18 to vote.
If you have applied for a mail-in ballot: You must complete your ballot and make sure it is returned to the Allegheny County Department of Elections by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18.
‼️ NOTE: Ballots MUST be at the Allegheny County Department of Elections. A ballot that is mailed but has not reached the Department of Elections before 8 p.m. on May 18 will not be counted.
More information about mail-in ballots and absentee ballots is available on the VotesPA website.
[Image from the Allegheny County Facebook page]
📍Where to drop off your mail-in ballot?
If you have not returned your mail-in ballot, you can drop off your ballot at the Allegheny County Department of Elections in downtown Pittsburgh.
County Administration Building ‐ Lobby
542 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15219
🗳 Ballot drop off dates & times:
- ➡️ Sat., May 15: 8 a.m. ‐5 p.m.
- ➡️ Sun., May 16: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- ➡️ Mon., May 17: 8:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- ➡️ Tue., May 18: 7:00 a.m. – 8 p.m.
🗳 Things to know before you go to drop off your ballot:
- ✅ Pennsylvania law requires each voter to return their own ballot. You cannot have someone drop off your ballot for you.
- ✅ Masks or face coverings are required in the offices and physical distancing will be followed
- ✅ Once you get to the building, the ballot box is located inside on the first floor, and staff members to help you find the ballot box.
- ✅ Weekend Parking: Street parking downtown is ALWAYS free on Sundays.
ℹ️ Election Information for Pittsburgh
Voting in Pittsburgh is conducted through the Allegheny County Department of Elections.
- 🔗 Allegheny County website: AlleghenyVotes.com
- 🔗 State of Pennsylvania website: VotesPA.org
ℹ️ Voter Guides for Pittsburgh & Allegheny County
- → Voters Guide to the 2021 Primary Election // League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh
- → Helping you fill out your ballot in the ‘Burgh // The Incline
- → Guide to the PA Primary Election // PUMP & Urban League Young Professionals
- → 2021 Pittsburgh Democratic Primary Election Guide // Pittsburgh City Paper
ℹ️ Election Results
After the polls close at 8 p.m., the Allegheny County Department of Elections posts the election results as they are reported back to the county on its website here.
Some of the research for this story is from Matt Petras’s 2020 election story.