Pennsylvania Elections: What you need to know about voting by mail

A ballot drop box from Colorado
Election Day is coming up in a few short weeks, and there's a lot of noise out there about mail-in voting. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania cleared up many of the most pressing questions about voting by mail in our Commonwealth with their September 17th ruling in Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar. We represented voters and voting organizations in the case. 

We broke down what you need to know about the ruling and the law on our website, and we'll be updating it if things change. Right now, in Pennsylvania:

+ Mail-in and absentee ballots that are mailed by the time polls close on Election Day--8:00 PM, Tuesday, November 3--can be received by county election until Friday, November 6, at 5 PM. This extension, which we have long advocated for, gives voters the confidence that their vote will count. 

+ County Boards of Election are permitted to set up drop-off locations and collection sites for voters to return their mail-in ballots. Check your County Board of Election website to find out if that option is available to you.  

+ Ballots submitted without a secrecy envelope will not be counted. Read the instructions carefully when voting by mail, and make sure to seal your ballot inside the inner secrecy envelope--included with your ballot--before placing it inside the outer mailing envelope. This two-minute video from the Pennsylvania Dept. of State explains all the steps in the process of voting by mail.

The deadline to register to vote is October 19, and the deadline for applications for mail-in ballots to be received is October 27--though we highly recommend that you start the process as soon as possible if you plan to vote by mail. As always, you can choose to vote in person--find your polling place here. Visit, the state's official elections website, for more information.

We have vigilantly fought to protect Pennsylvania voters' access to the ballot box, however they choose to vote, challenging misinformation and attempts at voter suppression. And we will continue to do so.  

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Coming up TOMORROW: Advancing Justice Together

Our 2020 annual celebration 
Illustration by Symone Salib
Tomorrow night, October 1, join us for a virtual event celebrating those who help us Advance Justice Together. Our allies will come together from across the country to recognize all those who help us take on discrimination and poverty: pro bono partners, supporters and friends, and clients who stand up to the injustice they see in their own lives and the lives of their neighbors. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020
6 - 7:30 p.m.
Streaming virtually online
Both free and premium tickets are available for this event, but registration is required to attend. For more information about tickets, sponsorship, and accessibility, please contact Michael Berton at or 267-546-1303.
Tickets _ Information 
Join our 2020 silent auction!
Phillies game view from behind home plate
Pitruco Pizza food truck
A farmhouse with a deck
ballroom dancing

Our 2020 silent auction fundraiser is going strong! Anyone can join in the fun, whether or not they're able to attend our annual celebration.

All the proceeds will help us continue to take on poverty and discrimination. Whether you're an amateur chef or a looking for a weekend getaway, you can win unforgettable experiences and one-of-a-kind gifts. 

Join our silent auction

Jennifer Clarke, our Executive Director, will step down after 14 years at the end of 2020

Jennifer Clarke
Jennifer Clarke
Jennifer Clarke, our executive director, has announced that she plans to step down at the end of 2020, after a 14-year tenure marked by landmark litigation achievements, expansion and increased diversity of the board and staff, and enhanced financial stability.

Over Jennifer's 14 years of leadership, we have achieved major victories for voting rights, helping lead a case striking down Pennsylvania's Voter ID law in 2012 and successfully challenging our state's gerrymandered congressional district map in 2018. She also led us in persuading the PA Supreme Court to hear a challenge to the state's unfair and inadequate funding of public education; securing a settlement in a Medicaid case is Florida that helped 1.9 million children access health and dental care; and other major efforts. 

"It has been a deep privilege to lead this organization for the past 14 years," Jennifer said. "Working with our supportive Board, collaborating with an extraordinarily talented staff and building strong alliances in our local and national community have been the most fulfilling professional experiences of my career. I am proud of our record of success, and it is time to hand the baton to a new leader as I enter a new phase of my life in 2021."

Help thank Jennifer and wish her well by liking her post on Facebook!
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We are seeking our next Executive Director

We are seeking an exceptional leader who is committed to the mission of civil rights advocacy and to public interest legal strategies to serve as our next Executive DirectorThrough the highly successful efforts of our outgoing executive director, resourceful board, and talented staff, we have achieved financial stability; a cohesive and collaborative team of lawyers and other professionals; an impressive network of pro bono counsel; and an enviable reputation for superb legal acumen and diligence.

At a time when civil rights and protections for citizens are facing fierce and unrelenting assaults from private and state actors, and the nation experiences a once-in-a-generation reckoning over its legacies of racism, poverty, disenfranchisement, and exclusion, our work could not be more relevant and critical. We are looking for a leader who can harness the urgency of the moment. Learn more, apply, or nominate candidates at search firm Isaacson, Miller's online portal. 

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We're hiring a staff attorney for housing and environmental justice

A law center group photo
Come work with us!
We are seeking applications for a staff attorney to work primarily in the areas of housing and environmental justice. Our work is aimed at stopping housing discrimination against low-income people, promoting healthy, affordable housing for people in the neighborhoods of their choice and supporting low-income, historically disinvested communities and communities of color in advocating effectively for sustainable and equitable neighborhoods.

The lawyer will work major litigation initiatives in these subject areas and will be responsible for all aspects of such litigation including developing legal theories, factual investigation, research, discovery, trial, appeals and enforcement. Learn more about the position and how to apply on our website
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Law Center in the News: Advocating for students with disabilities during virtual instruction in Philadelphia

Students learning
For some students with disabilities, virtual instruction during COVID-19 building closures has left them without services and evaluations they depend on, and that they are guaranteed to receive by law. As a result, they may be losing valuable educational progress.

Our staff attorney, Darlene Hemerka, spoke with NBC10 Philadelphia for their in-depth investigation of this issue, published on September 3. 

"I think that a lot of parents feel as though they've become both the teacher and the related service provider," she said. "So, if the student gets occupational therapy or physical therapy or anything like that - they feel as if they're also doing that and obviously trying to be a parent. If they're working from home, trying to do that, as well."
If you are a family in the School District of Philadelphia who wants to learn more about your student's right to be evaluated/reevaluated and receive related services during the school closures, contact Darlene for more information at 267-546-1314 or
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We're looking for Spring 2021 interns!

The Public Interest Law Center
We are now accepting applications for Spring semester 2021 internships from law students, graduate students and undergraduates. 

Interns gain experience in civil rights law and learn the inner workings of one of Philadelphia's premier public interest firms. You'll become part of a close-knit group of attorneys, advocates, and others committed to social justice. Law Center attorneys and staff are committed to helping train the next generation of civil rights attorneys, advocates, and nonprofit leaders. Learn more and apply on our website.

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