How do I request a mail-in or absentee ballot?
Any registered voter may request a mail-in ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested by voters with disabilities or an illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on election day, or those who will be absent from their municipality on Election Day.
Request forms must be received by your county election board by 5 pm on October 26, 2021.
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Option 1: Apply for a Mail-in or Absentee Ballot Online
Option 2: Apply for a Mail-in or Absentee Ballot by mail
Step 1: Download and complete a paper mail-in or absentee ballot application:
Voters who plan to be out of the municipality on election day or have a disability or illness that prevents them from going to their polling place on election day can use the Absentee Ballot Application:
- You can contact your
county election board directly to request a paper application.
- Or you can contact the Department of State to request an application by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org or calling
Step 2: Mail your application:
Send your mail-in or absentee ballot application to the
county election office. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is one week before the election. Applications must be received by the county election board by 5 pm, October 26, 2021 (one week before the election).
Military and overseas voters should visit the
information for military and overseas voters web page for information on how they can obtain an absentee ballot.
Option 3: Apply at your county election board or other designated location
What’s the annual mail-in ballot request?
You now have the option to request to be added to the annual 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
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.
Accessible Remote Ballot Marking Solution for mail voting
The Department of State is committed to increasing accessibility for voters with disabilities. Pennsylvania voters with disabilities now have the opportunity to mark their absentee or mail-in ballot electronically.
Learn more about the accessible remote ballot marking solution.
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.
Voters may return their voted mail-in or absentee ballot to their county election board of election office during that office's business hours, or another officially designated location.
Ballots must be received by your county election board before 8 pm on Election Day.
Voting early in-person by mail-in or absentee ballot
If you are a registered Pennsylvania voter, you can use the early in-person voting option.
As soon as ballots are ready, you can request, receive, vote and cast your mail-in or absentee ballot all in one visit to your
county election board 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.
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.
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
If you don't have one of 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.
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:
- 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.
- If you don't surrender your ballot and return envelope, you can only vote by provisional ballot at your polling place. Your county election board will then verify that you did not vote by mail before counting your provisional ballot.
How do I know if my ballot was accepted and counted?
Under current Pennsylvania law, your mail-in ballot can't be opened until Election Day. Therefore, if there's a problem with your mail-in ballot, you won't have the opportunity to correct it before the election. Still, as long as you followed all the instructions and mailed your completed, signed, dated, and sealed in the inner secrecy envelope, ballot by Election Day, you don't have to worry.
Why are there two envelopes with my mail-in ballot?
The smaller secrecy envelope is intended to protect the anonymity of your vote. After you fill out your ballot, you must place it in the secrecy envelope and seal it.
Do not make any marks on this envelope. If you fail to place and seal your ballot in this envelope or if you make marks on this envelope, your ballot will not be counted.
The second, larger envelope is the mailing and declaration envelope. You must use it, even if you are dropping your ballot off at a drop box. Place your secrecy envelope (with your ballot inside) into the mailing and declaration envelope. You must seal it and sign and date the declaration before you can return your ballot.
Both of these envelopes must be used in order for your vote to count.
Find more Election FAQs
What if I miss the application deadline?
Last Minute Emergencies
In emergency situations (such as an unexpected illness, disability or last-minute absence from your municipality), you can
request an Emergency Absentee Ballot after 5 pm on the Tuesday before the election.
The deadline to submit your Emergency Absentee Ballot Application to the County Election Board is 8 pm on Election Day.