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Voting by Mail-in or Absentee Ballot

Mail-in and absentee ballot applications for the November 3, 2020, general election must be received by your county election office or other designated location by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. 

Apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot today.



What are mail ballots?

 
 

In Pennsylvania, you now 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 office.

  • 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


Which ballot should I use?

Mail-in Ballot

Who may apply for a mail-in ballot application?

You may apply for a Mail-in Ballot if you are a qualified voter. You must be registered to vote in order to vote by mail-in ballot.

More about Mail-in Ballots

Absentee Ballot

Who may apply for an absentee ballot application?

  • College students who are not registered to vote at their school address
  • People whose work or vacation take them away from the municipality where they live
  • Those with a physical disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polling place
  • Members of the military
  • People who may have a conflict due to the celebration of a religious holiday
  • Inmates who haven't been convicted of a felony
  • To vote by absentee ballot you must be registered to vote.

More about Absentee Ballots


Voting by Mail-in Ballot

Deadlines for the November 3 General Election:

  • October 27- APPLICATIONS must be RECEIVED by your county election office by 5 p.m.
  • November 3 - Deadline for returning your mail-in 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.

Applications and ballots may be delivered to your county election office by the deadline. Contact your county election office for their hours of operation.


How do I apply for a mail-in ballot?

Option 1: Apply for a Mail-in Ballot Online

computer with text reading Register

Apply Online at VotesPA.com/ApplyMailBallot
Solicite la papeleta de voto por correo

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 (PennDOT).

Be sure to:

  • Sign up to be a permanent mail-in ballot voter so you can automatically receive ballots by mail for the rest of the year.
  • Provide an email address to receive notifications about your application and ballot status.

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.

Apply for a mail-in ballot Solicite la papeleta de voto por correo

Option 2: Apply for a Mail-in Ballot by mail

paper and pencil

Step 1: Complete a paper mail-in ballot application:

Download and print a mail-in ballot application:

Don't have a printer? Have a paper application mailed to you:

Complete the online request form to have a paper application mailed to you.

  • You can contact your county election office directly to request a paper application. 
  • Or you can contact the Department of State to request an application by emailing ra-voterreg@pa.gov or calling 1-877-VOTESPA.


envelope with a piece of paper sticking out and a checkmark

Step 2: Mail your application:

Send your mail-in ballot application to the county election office. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is 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.

Other ways to request a mail-in ballot

office building

If your application is accepted, you will get a mail-in ballot with instructions from your county election office.


Already applied for a mail-in 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 application, to when they receive your voted ballot.

Track the Status of Your Mail-in or Absentee Ballot

animated step 1 thru 4 of the tracker


What’s a permanent mail-in ballot request?

long list with a pencil

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 application 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.

Apply online for a mail-in ballot

Download and print a mail-in ballot application:




How do I vote with a mail-in ballot?

hand marking votes on a paper ballot
1. Mark your ballot, following the instructions.

hand signing the return envelope next an X
2. Place your ballot in the secrecy envelope and then put the secrecy envelope into the official envelope. Be sure to sign the declaration, or your ballot may not count.

stamped envelope being put into a USPS mailbox
3. Return your ballot so it arrives at the county election office or other designated locationon time.




Voting by Absentee Ballot

Deadlines for the November 3 General Election:

  • October 27 - APPLICATIONS must be RECEIVED by your county election office by 5 pm
  • November 3 - Deadline for returning your mail-in ballot.
    • By mail: Your absentee 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 absentee ballot to your county election office or other designated location by 8 p.m. on election day.
  • November 6 - absentee ballots (postmarked by 8 p.m. on election day) must be received by the county election office by 5 p.m.

Applications and ballots may be delivered to your county election office by the deadline. Contact your county election office for their hours of operation.

If you have an emergency you may still be able to get an absentee ballot after the deadline, called an emergency absentee ballot. You can find information about how to get an emergency absentee ballot at the end of this page.


How do I apply for an absentee ballot?

Option 1: Apply for an Absentee Ballot Online

computer with text reading Register

Apply Online VotesPA.com/ApplyAbsentee
Solicite la papeleta de voto por correo

Registered voters can apply for an absentee ballot online with a valid PA driver's license or photo I.D. from the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Be sure to:

  • Sign up to be a permanent absentee ballot voter so you can automatically receive ballots by mail for the rest of the year.
  • Provide an email address to receive notifications about your application and ballot status.

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.

Apply for an absentee ballot Solicite la papeleta de voto por correo

Option 2: Apply for an Absentee Ballot by mail

paper and pencil

Step 1: Complete a paper absentee ballot application:

Download and print an absentee ballot application:

Don't have a printer? Have a paper application mailed to you:

Complete the online request form to have a paper application mailed to you.

  • You can contact your county election office directly to request a paper application. 
  • Or you can contact the Department of State to request an application by emailing ra-voterreg@pa.gov or calling 1-877-VOTESPA.

Fill in the paper absentee ballot application. Mark the reason why you cannot get to the polling place on election day. In Pennsylvania, you must meet one of the listed reasons.

envelope with a piece of paper sticking out and a checkmark

Step 2: Mail your application:

Send your absentee ballot application to the county election office. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is one week before the election. Members of the military can apply at any time.

Other ways to request an absentee ballot

office building

If your application is accepted, you will get an absentee ballot with instructions from your county election office.


Already applied for an absentee 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 application, to when they receive your voted ballot.

Track the Status of Your Mail-in or Absentee Ballot

animated step 1 thru 4 of the tracker


What’s a permanent absentee ballot request?

long list with a pencil

You now have the option to request to be added to the permanent absentee ballot request list where you’ll receive an application to renew your absentee ballot request each year. This only applies if you have a permanent disability or illness when applying for this option when submitting an absentee ballot application. Once your application 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.


How do I vote with an absentee ballot?

hand marking votes on a paper ballot
1. Mark your ballot, following the instructions.

hand signing the return envelope next an X
2. Place your ballot in the secrecy envelope and then put the secrecy envelope into the official envelope. Be sure to sign the declaration, or your ballot may not count.

stamped envelope being put into a USPS mailbox
3. Return your ballot so it arrives at the county election office or other designated location on time.


Identification for Mail Voting

In order to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot, you must supply proof of identification.  

This does not apply to individuals entitled to vote: 

  • under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting
  • by alternative ballot under the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act 

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. 



Emergency Absentee Ballot

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 Office is 8:00 pm on election day.

 Content Editor

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