Called to Be a Public Church: Register to Vote & Obtain Absentee Ballots
September 16 - November 5
We are called to be a Public Church; connecting our faith to our involvement in government. How are we called to civic engagement through participation in the electoral process? Voting is one of the most important ways Americans can be involved in our representative democracy. Through the simple act of casting an informed vote, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help make decisions that will affect our lives and the lives of our families for the next two to eight years. Scripture reveals God’s presence in all realms of life, including political life. The ELCA understands government as a means through which God works to preserve creation and build a more peaceful and just social order in a sinful world. The electoral process is one way in which we live out our affirmation of baptism to “serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,” and “to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
Tuesday, September 24 is National Voter Registration Day. Are you registered to vote in Pennsylvania? Online voter registration is now available in Pennsylvania! Click here to register. Monday, October 7 is the deadline to register to vote in the November 5, 2019 election. If you are not a U.S. citizen and a resident of Pennsylvania at least 30 days before the next election, you CANNOT register to vote. Questions regarding voting may be directed to 1.877.VOTESPA (1.877.868.3772). Your registration is not complete until processed and accepted by your county voter registration office.
Starting with this year’s General Election, voters who need to vote by absentee ballot may apply for the ballot online. The mobile-friendly, online application site, available at votesPA.com/ApplyAbsentee, will go live on Monday, Sept. 16, the first day that registered voters may apply for absentee ballots for the Nov. 5 election.
When an applicant completes the online form, the information is forwarded directly to the appropriate county elections office for processing. The applicant will then be provided with a ballot that must be completed and either mailed or hand-delivered to the appropriate county election office by the deadline, which is 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election, or Nov. 1 this year.
The online application system will be accessible for all domestic Pennsylvania voters this year and to military and overseas voters by 2020. Absentee ballots may be cast by individuals with illnesses or disabilities, individuals who will be away from their municipality on business on Election Day, and Pennsylvania students attending out-of-state colleges or universities, among others.
Remind your college students to obtain and fill out an absentee ballot or complete an online request for an absentee ballot. Click here for a link to an absentee ballot application. The first day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot is September 16. The last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot is October 29. Completed absentee ballots are due to the County Boards of Elections by November 1, 2019.
The ELCA provides many resources to encourage, empower and equip Lutherans for responsible civic engagement based on their faith values. Click here to access a Lutheran voters guide that provides Bible studies, voter registration guides for congregations (has your congregation considered providing transportation to the polls) and tips for leading non-partisan and respectful conversation.
The simple act of casting your vote can have a powerful effect. Your vote means that your elected officials are accountable to you. As a result, by voting you become an advocate for all of the change or consistency that you want to see in this country. This is the beauty of our electoral system. Exercise your civic rights.