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5 things you need to know about the Philly primary election before May 1.

Editor’s Note: The reporter listed above trained ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, to collaboratively write this story, which was edited by newsroom staff.

This story is part of our “Hey, City Hall! It’s us, Kensington” series. Do you have a question for Philly government? Our journalists are here to bring your questions to City Hall on your behalf. Just fill out this form, and we’ll get straight to work.

To choose Philly’s next mayor and 11 other top city and state positions, Philadelphia residents must either vote in person, or Philadelphia’s County Board of Elections must receive their mail-in ballots by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16. 

Voters are allowed to apply for a mail-in ballot for any reason. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is May 9 – one week before Election Day. 

Here are five things you need to know about the election before the voter registration deadline on May 1. 

There are 12 big positions on the ballot, so a lot is at stake. 

The following positions are on Philadelphia’s 2023 Municipal Election ballot

  • Mayor
  • City Commissioner
  • City Controller
  • Register of Wills
  • Sheriff
  • City Council (At Large)
  • City Council (District) 
  • Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Judge of the Superior Court
  • Judge of the Commonwealth Court
  • Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
  • Judge of the Municipal Court

Philadelphia voters will choose the Democratic or Republican candidate for each position depending on their political party. The party candidates with the most votes will move onto the general election on November 7. Each of the people elected for these positions has the power to dramatically impact the quality of life in your neighborhood. 

You must be registered to vote by May 1 in order to vote.

All voters must be registered to vote by May 1 in order to cast their ballots on Election Day. Therefore, you must register to vote through the Pennsylvania Department of State voter registration website if you: 

  • Never registered to vote in Pennsylvania before
  • Recently moved to Pennsylvania from another state 
  • Recently changed your name 
  • Want to change your political party (you must be registered as a Democrat or Republican to vote in any primary election) 

If you don’t remember whether you registered before, you can click here to check your voter registration status. 

Kensington Voice is printing voter registration forms and distributing them in our April 2023 newspapers at these 25+ locations

Read more: First time voting? Recently changed your name? Here’s how to register to vote in Philadelphia.

You must register as a Democrat or a Republican to vote in the Philly primary election.

Pennsylvania has a “closed primary” system, meaning that only people registered as Democrats and Republicans can vote on the candidates running for their party’s nomination in this election. 

However, anyone registered for any political party or unaffiliated can vote on ballot questions. There will be four ballot questions for the May 2023 primary election. 

In November, voters registered for any political party or unaffiliated can vote in the general election.

To change political parties, you can click here to fill out a new voter registration form. 

You can also read more about one organization’s effort to change Pennsylvania’s closed primary policy by visiting the Committee of 70’s website

You can vote by mail for any reason, but you need to apply for a mail-in ballot by May 9. 

To apply for a mail-in ballot by mail, you can download and print the paper application from the Department of State’s website. You can request an application by mail at 1-877-VOTESPA.

Kensington Voice is also printing mail-in applications and distributing them in our April 2023 newspapers at these 25+ locations

Once you have the form, you can fill it out and mail it to:

Philadelphia County Board of Elections
City Hall Rm 142
1400 JFK Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Read more: You can vote by mail for any reason. Here’s how to apply for a mail-in ballot.

The big deadlines are: May 1, May 9, and May 16. 

For the primary election, the major deadlines are: 

  • May 1: The registration deadline is May 1. 
  • May 9: The mail-in application deadline is May 9.
  • May 16: The voting deadline is May 16 at 8 p.m. 

Have any questions about the election? 

For more information, please contact Philadelphia’s Voter Registration Office at 215-686-1591, Philadelphia’s County Board of Elections office at 215-686-3469, or visit  

Editors: Zari Tarazona Designer: Zari Tarazona

This content is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.