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.
Please visit the Pennsylvania Department of State website for more information about elections.
Federal Cycle (2022, 2024, 2026, etc.)
Offices that will be voted on during federal cycles may include:
- President and Vice President (four-year term)
- U.S. Senator (six-year term)
- U.S. Representative in Congress (two-year term)
- Governor and Lieutenant Governor (four-year term)
- Attorney General (four-year term)
- Auditor General (four-year term)
- Treasurer (four-year term)
- Senator in the General Assembly (four-year term)
- Representative in the General Assembly (two-year term)
- Justices and State Judges (ten-year term)
- Elected in Primary
- Municipal-Level Party Committee Member (two-year term)
- State Party Committee Member (two-year term)
- Delegates and Alternatives to National Party Convention (four-year term)
Municipal Cycle (2023, 2025, 2027, etc.)
Offices that will be voted on during municipal cycles may include:
- Justices of the Supreme Court (ten-year term)
- Judges of the Superior and Commonwealth Courts (ten-year term)
- Judges of the Court of Common Pleas (ten-year term)
- District Justice (six-year term)
- County (all four-year terms)
- Register of Wills
- Clerk of Courts
- Recorder of Deeds
- District Attorney
- Mayor (four-year term)
- Council - City and Boroughs (four-year term)
- Township Commissioners (four-year term)
- Township Supervisors (six-year term)
- Treasurer (four-year term)
- Tax Collector (four-year term)
- Auditor (six-year term)
- School Director (four-year term)
- Constable (six-year term)
- Election District (all four-year terms)
- Judge of Election
- Majority Inspector of Election
- Minority Inspector of Election
Mini Civics Courses:
Please see the videos below for basic civics information from Schoolhouse Rock.