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Voting by mail-in or absentee ballot is safe, secure, and easy.

 

In Pennsylvania, you now have two options for mail ballots.

  • Mail-in ballot – Any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot. You may simply request this ballot without a reason.
  • Absentee ballot – If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you should request this ballot type, which still requires you to list a reason for your ballot.

In order to request either ballot type, you must be registered to vote. Please visit Check Your Registration Status to review your registration information


Quick links


Deadlines for the November 3 General Election

  • October 27 at 5 pm - APPLICATIONS for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election board or other designated locations
  • November 3 - Deadline for returning your voted mail-in or absentee ballot. 
    • By mail: Your mail-in ballot must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day and received by your county election office by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 6 to be counted. 
    • In-person: You must return your mail-in ballot to your county election office or other designated location by 8 p.m. on election day.
  • November 6 - Mail-in ballots (postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day) must be received by the county election office by 5 p.m.

Missed the deadline? If you have an emergency (such as an unexpected illness or disability and last-minute absence) you may still be able to get a ballot after the deadline. Find information about how to get an emergency absentee ballot at the end of this page. 



How do I request a mail-in or absentee ballot?

All registered voters may request a mail-in ballot for any or no reason. Absentee ballots should be requested by voters with disabilities, an illness, or who will be absent from their municipality on election day. Request forms must be received by your county election board or other designated location by 5 pm on October 27, 2020.

 Accordion



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Third Party Ballot Delivery for Mail Voting

If you have a disability that prevents you from applying in person for your mail ballot or delivering your mail ballot, you may designate an agent to deliver your ballot materials for you. You must designate the agent in writing using this form or a form provided by your county.



How do I vote and return my mail-in or absentee ballot?

 
 

Below are general steps on how to vote, prepare, and return your mail ballot. Be sure to follow the instructions included with your ballot. Contact your county election office if you have any questions.

Under Pennsylvania law, voters must return their own ballots. The only exceptions to this are for voters with a disability who have designated someone in writing to deliver their ballot.

Step 1:

ballot icon

Read the instructions carefully and mark your ballot. Be sure to complete the front and back of each page.

Step 2:

ballot being sealed in secrecy envelope

Seal your ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope that indicates official ballot. Do not place any marks on the white inner secrecy envelope.

Your ballot must be enclosed in the white inner secrecy envelope to be counted.

Step 3:

seal the secrecy envelope into the return envelope

Seal the inner secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope. Complete, sign and date the voter’s declaration on the outside of the outer return envelope. 

If you do not sign the outer return envelope, your ballot will not be counted.

Step 4:

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You should then return your voted ballot to the county board of elections. The deadline to return absentee and mail-in ballots is by 8 p.m. on election day, but the sooner the better.

  1. You can mail your ballot. The Department of State is providing pre-paid postage on mail ballot return envelopes, it must be postmarked by 8 pm on election day (November 3) or
  2. You can hand-deliver your ballot before 8 pm on election day (November 3) to your: 


Where do I return my ballot?

Find your county mail ballot return or early voting locations

What are Drop Boxes and Dropoff Sites

Drop boxes are a safe and secure way for Pennsylvania voters to return their voted mail-in or absentee ballots. Voters may return their mail-in or absentee ballot at their county election board's designated drop box(es) or dropoff location before 8 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Services available at a drop box or dropoff location:

  • Return only your own voted ballot

NOTE: Voted ballots may also be returned at your county election office or satellite election office. The list of drop box locations will be updated as more information becomes available.


What are Satellite County Election Offices

Some county election boards have opened satellite offices to offer county residents added convenience. These satellite locations may be open additional hours, including weeknights and weekends. Each satellite location has a secure ballot receptacle to store voted mail-in and absentee ballots submitted at the location. 

Services available at a County Election Office or Satellite County Election Office:

  • Register to vote (not offered at all satellite locations)
  • Vote early in person
    • Apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot
    • Vote your ballot, once your application is verified
    • Return a completed ballot
  • Return a completed ballot that was mailed to you.

The list of satellite locations designated by the county election board will be updated as information is made available.



Voting early in-person by mail-in or absentee ballot

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If you are a registered Pennsylvania voter, you can use the new early in-person voting option available under the bipartisan Act 77.

As soon as ballots are ready, you can request, receive, mark and cast your mail-in or absentee ballot all in one visit to your county election office or other officially designated site

With this option, there is no need for mail at all, and you can cast your vote at your convenience. Learn more about voting early in-person by mail-in or absentee ballot.



How do I track my ballot?

PA voters can see the status of their mail-in or absentee ballot online. Track your ballot's progress from when your county receives your request, to when they receive your voted ballot.

Due to the volume of mail-in ballots expected during the 2020 General Election, it may take a few days for the system to be updated. 

Track the Status of Your Mail-in or Absentee Ballot

animated step 1 thru 4 of the tracker


Identification for Mail Voting

In order to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot, you must supply proof of identification. Uniformed and overseas citizens and voters who qualify under the voting accessibility for the elderly and handicapped act do not need to show ID. All other voters must use one of the following options.

Option 1 

Include one of these ID numbers on your absentee or mail-in ballot form: 

  • Current and valid Pennsylvania driver's license 
  • PennDOT photo ID card 

Option 2 

If you don't have one the documents listed under option 1, you can include the last 4 digits of your social security number on your absentee or mail-in ballot form. 

Option 3 

If you don't have one of the documents listed under option 1 or a social security number, you can provide a photocopy of one of the following IDs with your absentee or mail-in ballot application. The photocopy must show name, a photo, and an expiration date that is current. 

  • U.S. Passport 
  • U.S. Military ID (active duty and retired military ID may designate an expiration date that is indefinite). Military dependents' ID must contain a current expiration date. 
  • Employee photo identification issued by Federal, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania County, or Pennsylvania Municipal government. 
  • Photo identification issued by an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning. 
  • Photo identification issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences and personal care homes. 



Frequently Asked Questions

What if I requested a mail-in or absentee ballot but I didn't receive a ballot, lost my ballot, or changed my mind and want to vote in-person?

  • If you already submitted a mail-in or absentee ballot, you cannot vote at your polling place on election day.
  • If you did not return your mail-in or absentee ballot and you want to vote in person, you have two options:
    1. Bring your ballot and the pre-addressed outer return envelope to your polling place to be voided. After you surrender your ballot and envelope and sign a declaration, you can then vote a regular ballot.
    2. If you don't surrender your ballot and return envelope, you can only vote by provisional ballot at your polling place. Your county board of elections will then verify that you did not vote by mail before counting your provisional ballot.


What's the difference between a mail-in ballot and an absentee ballot?

In Pennsylvania, you have two options for mail ballots. You may either choose a mail-in ballot or an absentee ballot to request, complete, and return to your county election board's office or another location designated by the county board of elections.

  • Mail-in ballot – Any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot. You may simply request this ballot without a reason.
  • Absentee ballot – If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness that prevents you from going to the polling place, you should request this ballot type, which still requires you to list a reason for your ballot.


What's the annual mail-in ballot request?

You now have the option to request to be added to the permanent mail-in ballot request list where you'll receive an application to renew your mail-in ballot request each year. Once your request is approved, you will automatically receive ballots for the remainder of the year, and you do not need to submit an application for each election.  

Learn more about the annual mail-in ballot request.


What if I miss the application deadline?

Last Minute Emergencies

In emergency situations (such as an unexpected illness or disability and last-minute absence) following the deadline at 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election, you can request an Emergency Absentee Ballot.

The deadline to submit your Emergency Absentee Ballot Application to the County Election Board is 8:00 pm on election day.