At minimum, there are two elections every year - one approximately every six months! Elections in the spring are primary elections, where candidates will be selected to run in the general election. Elections in the fall are general elections, where candidates are elected into office.
Special elections may occur when an elected official has to leave office before the end of their term. A special election may be called to elect another candidate to complete their term.
A primary election is an election in which registered voters will select a candidate that they believe should be that political party's candidate for elected office to run in the general election of that year. Primaries are also used to choose Democratic/Republican convention delegates and party leaders.
According to Pennsylvania law, primaries are closed primaries. This means that only voters registered under the Democratic or Republican parties can cast a vote. Voters must vote according to their party registration.
However, if there are constitutional amendments or referendum questions on the ballot, a separate ballot will be provided for all other voters in primary elections.
General elections in Pennsylvania are open to all voters, no matter their registered party. Voters will elect candidates into office to serve their designated term.
Federal versus Municipal Cycles
Offices that will be voted on during a primary and general election depend on the election cycle - either federal or municipal. Federal cycles run in even-numbered years. Municipal cycles run in odd-numbered years.