State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching

by and on April 21, 2019 5:00 AM

Monday, April 22, is the last day to register to vote for May’s primary and special election.

This year’s primary will be held on May 21 in conjunction with the special election to fill the vacated 12th District U.S. Congressional seat. This means that independent voters in the 12th District not registered as Democrats or Republicans, who normally sit out primary elections, will have a reason to make sure they are registered and get to the polls.

In Centre County, the 12th District includes Ferguson Township, State College, Harris Township, College Township, part of Halfmoon Township and the Penns Valley area. It also includes portions of Bradford, Clinton, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union and Wyoming counties. The seat was left vacated when Rep. Tom Marino resigned in January to take a private sector job.

Just two months before resigning, Marino, a Lycoming County Republican, won a fifth term in Congress, defeating Ferguson Township resident Marc Friedenberg with 66 percent of the vote.

Friedenberg, an attorney and faculty member at Penn State, where he teaches cybersecurity and cyber law, is again the Democratic hopeful for the seat. He is up against Synder County Republican Fred Keller. Keller has represented the 85th District, which covers Snyder and Union counties, in the state House since 2011. 

There was no primary for the special election and the candidates were chosen by party representatives.

There are numerous municipal, county and school board races in the primary election, with nearly 150 candidates on ballots in Centre County. Any changes to a voter’s registration must be made before April 22, so those who wish to vote in the Democratic or Republican primaries that day must register for the respective party before then.

This is because Pennsylvania uses a closed primary system where voters must be registered with a party to vote in primaries as the parties choose their candidate to vote in the general election. Voters are able to change their party status at anytime, but must do so before April 22 for May’s primary.

As of April 8 the county reported there were 44,642 registered Democrats (making up 41.45 percent of voters) and 42,753 registered Republicans (39.78 percent) in Centre County.

Residents can register to vote through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s online application. Before you begin, be sure to have your Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card handy. If you don’t have one, there are other options. Once you submit your online application, it will be forwarded to the appropriate county voter registration office for processing.

Or voters can call the local Voter Registration Office and request a voter registration application be mailed to you, or, download the Voter Registration Application. If mailed, they must be postmarked by the April 22 deadline.

Applications for absentee ballots, meanwhile, must be returned to the county elections office by May 14.

Election and voter information can be found on the county webpage at


This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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