An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


FAQ: The May 16 primary election


Pennsylvania’s 2023 primary election is coming up in less than three weeks, on Tuesday, May 16.

Republican and Democratic voters will choose their party’s candidates for various county, municipal, school district and judicial offices.

The winners will compete in November’s general election — or sail into office unopposed if the other party fails to field a candidate.

Eligible individuals have a few more days to register to vote if they haven’t already: The deadline is Monday, May 1. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Tuesday, May 9.

For more information and online tools to set up and manage your voter registration, visit Vote.Pa.Gov. You can also visit the Lancaster County Elections Office at 150 N. Queen St., Lancaster.

Notable statewide races include contests for judges on the Supreme Court and Commonwealth and Superior courts.

Locally, there are three Democratic candidates for two county commissioner nominations; Republican contests for county judge and clerk of courts; and other active races at the school board and municipal level. (Links to coverage of individual races are at the bottom of this page.)

Lancaster city voters will have a chance to weigh in on whether to form a commission to study home rule; and if so, who should serve on it. This component of the election is nonpartisan: All registered voters can weigh in, whether Democratic, Republican, third-party or independent.

Election logistics continue to be an issue. Last week, county officials reported an error on its mail-in ballots: namely, a mistaken instruction on how many judge candidates to vote for. About 3,000 erroneous ballots were mailed out; affected voters are being mailed replacement ballots with instructions.

Meanwhile, the county is planning to test out electronic poll books at a half-dozen locations.

Below is an FAQ for Lancaster County voters. You may also want to read the county board of elections’ “Tips on How to Be a Prepared Voter.”  Additional information is available on the board of elections’ website and at

When will the polls be open?

From 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16.

How do I find my polling place?

Visit this link.

How do I find out who is on the ballot?

Use the Lancaster County Specimen Ballot Viewer. A complete list of candidates in all county jurisdictions is available here.

How late can I return a mail-in ballot?

Your ballot must arrive at the county elections office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Postmarks do not count. If you don’t think there’s enough time left, return your ballot by hand to the county Elections Office, 150 N. Queen St., Lancaster.  The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ballots must be handed in at the office counter (Suite 117).

The office will have special extended hours around Election Day as follows:

  • Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 13: 8 to 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, May 16 (Election Day): 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What voting system does Lancaster County use?

Lancaster County now uses paper ballots that voters fill in by hand. They are then scanned. Click here for a step-by-step guide to the process.

Do I need ID?

First-time voters in a precinct will be asked for identification. Thereafter, it is not required.

Where can I learn more about the candidates?

Independent watchdog publication Spotlight PA has guides to Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court race here, and to its Superior and Commonwealth Court races here.

Lancaster city has posted information about home rule and the commission candidates.

Locally, LNP has posted stories on local races as part of its primary voter guide:

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(Editor’s Note: This article was updated on April 27 to add the county Election Office’s extended hours, and on May 9 and 11 to provide additional links.)