Don’t get caught in ‘pending’ status. What to know before Election Day

With the 2018 midterm elections swiftly approaching, here are some ways to make sure you can cast a vote on Nov. 6.

If you registered to vote in Centre County online this year but either forgot to submit a signature or put incorrect information on your form, you are still eligible to vote.

Approximately 200 people in the county, said Centre County Director of Elections Joyce McKinley, are in a “pending” status, meaning their applications to vote are filed with the county, but they must be updated with correct information before the person can vote.

“We’re still trying to find a lot of them,” McKinley said. If you received a paper registration form from the county after submitting your online registration, your application is still pending, she said. You can either fill out the form with the correct information and return it to the county or visit the elections and voter registration office in person. If you are unsure about your voter status, you can call the office to check.

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If you are in “pending” status and you still have not made any changes to your online registration, you may request a provisional ballot at your polling place on Election Day, and your vote will be counted.

So far this year, 1,832 Centre County residents have changed their political party registration, according to data compiled by the Department of State. The highest category within those changes was 528 people who shifted their registration from other to Democrat. Next, 387 people shifted from Republican to Democrat; 320 changed from Democrat to Republican; 205 changed from other to Republican; 198 shifted from Democrat to other and 194 shifted from Republican to other. These numbers do not reflect new registered voters for any party.

The county also offers absentee voting, for people who know they will be out of the county on election day and won’t be able to make it to their polling place.

Absentee ballot applications are due by 5 p.m. Tuesday and absentee ballots must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday. For military and overseas voters, ballots must be postmarked by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 5.

But, McKinley said, there is an “emergency clause” for people who find out they will not be in the county on Election Day after the absentee ballot application deadline has passed. Those people, she said, must come to the voter registration office in person and fill out an application and ballot by 5 p.m. Friday.

Absentee voting has almost doubled in Centre County since the last midterm election in 2014. During the 2014 Pennsylvania governor’s race, there were 1,529 absentee voters in the county and as of this week, there have been 3,029 absentee voter applications submitted.

“This is statewide,” said McKinley, who added that absentee numbers are up everywhere. Absentee ballots may be granted for medical or disability reasons, military deployments, out-of-county college students, religious holiday celebrations or work or holiday travel that takes the person out-of-county on Election Day.

If you were not able to register to vote before the Oct. 9 deadline or submit an application for an absentee ballot, then you will not be able to vote in this year’s election.

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