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Registering to Vote

Student registers to vote during move-in day


First-year students can register to vote in person during move-in and orientation. 


Congratulations on taking the first step in becoming a voter and playing an important part in our democracy. Registration can sometimes be a little tricky, but don't worry, just follow these steps:

  1. Decide where you want to vote — in Swarthmore or back home — which will impact where and how you register
  2. Complete the registration process
  3. Confirm your registration 
  4. Update your registration when you change dorms or graduate

Decide where you want to vote — in Swarthmore or back home?

You may choose to vote either in Swarthmore, PA, or your home town—but not both. Please consider these factors:

  1. Pennsylvania holds "closed" primaries, which means if you can only vote for candidates within your party, i.e. if you registered as a Democrat, your ballot will only show candidates within the Democratic party. If you are registered as an Independent, you cannot vote in the PA primary and have to wait until the general election in November to vote. Eight other states also hold closed primary elections: Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Wyoming.
  2. Where do you live when you're not at school? If you register to vote in Swarthmore and your permanent residence is a reasonable driving distance, you may be called for jury duty at the courthouse in Media, PA at any time of the year, including summer months. Like voting, jury duty is an important way to exercise civic engagement; however, it may not always be feasible. You may request an exception due to academic studies or distance from campus, but some students have had their requests denied in the past. 
  3. Primary elections in Pennsylvania are typically held in late May, often after residence halls are closed. If you register to vote in Swarthmore, you will need to travel back to the Borough to vote in person or request an absentee ballot well in advance.
  4. Will you ever need to prove consistent residency "intent"? Intent is best demonstrated by keeping all your legal addresses, including those for voting, driver's license, etc., together as one for several years. Reasons to prove intent include eligibility for in-state graduate school tuition in your home state, or for taxation reasons if you own stocks and bonds or receive income from a trust, or from other investments. Otherwise, you can choose to have different legal addresses for different purposes, and most states, including Pennsylvania, do not prohibit you from having different legal addresses for driver's license and for voting, so long as you have only one for each.

If you're still not sure where to register, consider talking with registered students about their experiences, reaching out to the Swarthmore Political Access Network, or contacting a member of the GOTV committee to help talk through your options.

Made your decision? Now it's time to register!

Register to vote in Swarthmore


Go to the online registration form. IMPORTANT: When registering in Swarthmore, you MUST use your dorm name as place of residence. Simply listing the College's mailing address is not enough as their are two polling places that serve our campus. Which one you go to depends on which dorm you live in. Section 5 of your online form should look like this:

Screen shot of voter registration form showing the information that must appear in each address section. Street address should be your dorm name. County is Delaware. Municipality is Borough of Swarthmoer.

Enter the name of your dorm as the first street address on the Pennsylvania voter registration form.

If you live in Strath Haven, you must use “801 Yale Avenue" as your street address. Don’t include your room number.

Register to vote elsewhere

If you have chosen to register to vote in Pennsylvania but outside of the Borough of Swarthmore, or in another state, the simplest way to register is at Remember, if you register outside of the Borough, you must vote in person at the location where you registered on election day or request an absentee ballot in advance. Visit our page all about voting for more information.

Confirm Your Registration

You will receive a card in the mail confirming your registration, address, and designated voting location. It may take about 14 days to receive the mailing. If you don't get it within 14 days after registering, or if you have another question specific to your attempt to register, please follow up:

If you registered in Swarthmore, call the Delaware County Voter Registration Office at 610-891-4659. You can also check your PA voter registration status online.

If you registered elsewhere, check your registration online.

Update Your Registration

When you change dorms

If you registered to vote while living in a dorm listed in one column and have moved to a residence listed in a different column , you should re-register to vote. If you have moved to a dorm within the same column, you are still assigned to the same polling location and do not need to re-register. For example, if you moved from Dana to Wharton, you do not need to re-register because you are still served by the northern voting precinct. But if you moved from Dana to Mary Lyon, you do need to re-register because your polling location has changed.

residences voting in the northern precinct residences voting in the western precinct residences voting in the eastern precinct






Alice Paul

David Kemp

Off-campus north of the train tracks







Mary Lyon

Off-campus south of the train tracks and mostly west of Route 320



PPR Apartments




Off-campus south of the train tracks and mostly east of Route 320

When you leave the College

If you were registered to vote using your campus address, please let the county know you won't be voting in Swarthmore anymore. Simply write a letter like the one below. Don't forget to date and sign the letter. This will remove you from the voter registry, which is also the list from which jurors are sent jury duty letters.

[Today's date]

Mary Jo Headley
Voter Registration
Government Center
201 West Front Street
Media, PA 19063

Dear Ms. Headley,

I was a Swarthmore College student who registered to vote in the Borough of Swarthmore. I have movedand would like to be removed from the registry of Delaware County voters so I may register in my new location.

Thank you,
[Your signature]
[Your name]