What Voters Need to Know


Starting with the 2020 Presidential Primary Election, Dauphin County voters will see a  new state-mandated voter-marked paper ballot system made by Clear Ballot that has a verifiable paper trail.


All public demonstrations of the new voting system have been postponed.  When a new schedule is finalized, we will announce the dates, times and locations, and update this page.


Most voters will use the ClearCast system, using a pen fill in ovals on a paper ballot. Voters can review their choices before inserting the ballot into a high-speed scanner, which tabulates the votes and keeps them in a secure container. 

Voters with disabilities may use the ADA accessible ClearAccess system, which has a special electronic marking device to produce a paper ballot that looks identical to every other ballot.

                        How to vote on the ADA-accessible
Clear Acess System


Click  here to download image below in PDF

Important voting changes to know

Approved last year, Act 77 makes several substantial changes to how Pennsylvanians can vote. Here’s what you need to know:

Mail-in ballots

  • Any voter can apply for a mail-in ballot – no reason needed.
  • Click here to request a mail-in ballot.
  • Mail-in ballot application must be submitted by 5 p.m. the Tuesday before an election – May 26 for the Primary Election and October 27 for the General Election.
  • Ballots must be received by the county’s Board of Election’s Office by 8 p.m. on June 2, Election Day – mail-in ballots can either be mailed or dropped off at the office. Voters can only drop off their own ballot.
  • If you submit a mail-in ballot for the primary, you can also register to receive a mail-in ballot for the November General Election and any special elections that occur this year.

Additional Act 77 changes:

  • A voter who receives an absentee or mail-in ballot may only vote on election day by provisional ballot if they show up at the polls.
  • Voters can register to vote 15 days before an election instead of 30 days. For instructions on how to register to vote, click here.
  • No more straight-party voting. Voters will have to select each candidate individually.
The Pennsylvania Department of State is conducting weekly webinars to help you get ready to vote. 

    Tuesdays at 5:30 and 7:00 pm, May 5th - May 26th.

Topics include:

  • Voter Registration
  • Voting by Mail
  • Elections during COVID-19
Representatives from the Department of State will provide information and respond to questions. Participants must register in advance. Visit the Department of State’s website for more information and to register. 

Frequently asked questions

Q: Why did Dauphin County change voting systems?
The mandate to buy new voting systems came after the Wolf administration in 2018 settled a lawsuit filed by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein following the 2016 election. Stein sought a recount and alleged there were security concerns with Pennsylvania’s voting machines. Though she didn’t prove her claims in court, Wolf agreed to require the state’s 67 counties use voter-verifiable paper ballots by the 2020 election.

While the Commissioners argued that the county’s existing system was safe and hack-proof since it is not connected to the internet, the state refused to certify it and threatened to sue the county if it did not switch to a commonwealth-approved system.

The Commissioners selected Clear Ballot in December following a lengthy review of the available systems. As part of the review, the Commissioners held a voting machine expo in June where the public rated various systems. The Clear Ballot system purchased by the county was among the top three.

Q:  How quickly will we know the election results?
Election results from votes cast in the precinct should be available within hours after the polls close. Each ballot scanner tallies the votes and stores them on chips, and also produces a paper printout and similar to county’s electronic machines. The tallies from the scanners will be posted on Dauphin County’s website just as in previous elections.

However, mail-in and absentee ballots must be counted after the polls close at 8 p.m. Because of the high number of mail-in ballots expected, the final count may not be immediately available. All mail-in and absentee ballots are cross-checked to ensure people who voted by mail did not also vote in a precinct.

As part of the Clear Ballot contract, the county purchased large high-speed scanners to process the mail-in ballots.

Q:  How much will the new Clear Ballot voting system cost?

A:  Under the contract the Commissioners have approved on Jan. 8, the county is paying Clear Ballot $2.3 million. The agreement includes delivery and setup of the new equipment, training, onsite support, public education and a warranty.

In addition to the new system, the county will incur costs for training, public education, paper supplies, leased scanners, staffing and more. The final cost is yet to be determined. 

Q: Will the county receive state funds to cover the cost?
 The state has said it will reimburse counties for up to 60 percent of the cost; however, it is not clear whether the state will pay for all aspects associated with new system, such as ballot printing, training and other components.                           

Useful election links