Mail in ballots are a big topic of conversation in the news these days. From concerns around funding of the USPS to concerns about safety concerns for voting in person. So as a Pennsylvania voter, we wanted to break down the options available to you if you decide to opt into mail in voting.
Mail in Ballot vs Absentee Ballot
The difference between these two ballots is your location.
Request a mail-in ballot for any reason if you want to vote by mail and are not expecting to be out of the area.
Request an absentee ballot if you need to vote by mail because you are planning to be out of your municipality on election day, or if you have a disability or illness. In Pennsylvania, requesting an absentee ballot requires a reason, a mail-in ballot does not.
How to Apply for a Mail in Ballot
If you requested a mail-in ballot for the primary election, you do not need to request a new mail-in ballot for 2020. However, if you did not vote in the primary election or already request a ballot, the process is simple. You must first be registered to vote.
Registered voters can apply for a mail-in ballot online with a valid PA driver’s license or photo I.D. from the PA Department of Transportation.
When you apply online you have the option to become a permanent mail-in ballot voter to automatically receive ballots by mail for the rest of the year. Make sure you use your valid email address. You can use this to receive notifications and also check the status of your ballot.
Military and overseas voters are directed to visit the information for military and overseas voters web page.
Apply by Mail for a Mail-in Ballot
You can also apply for a mail-in ballot by mail. However, as a word of caution, since mail is already delayed, significantly in some areas, this option may delay your ballot and impact your ability to meet the deadline.
You can download and print a mail-in ballot application here:
Additionally, you can request a mail in ballot by:
- Contacting your county election office
- Emailing the Department of State at email@example.com
- Calling 1-877-VOTESPA.
Deadlines for Mail-in Ballots and How to Submit Your Ballot
Once you have your ballot, you need to be aware of the current deadlines.
Deadlines for the November 3 General Election:
- 5 pm October 27– Applications for mail in ballots are due.
- 8 pm November 3 – Your vote, signed and sealed, must be RECEIVED by your county election office – postmarks (at least at this point) are not enough.
Mail-in Without USPS
If you wish to avoid the actual mail-in process but still use a mail-in ballot you can deliver your ballot to your county election office by the deadline. Contact your county election office for their hours of operation.
Please make sure you sign the ballot as directed. Ballots that are not sealed or missing signatures will not be counted. Votes PA has all the details available here https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx