EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VOTING BY MAIL, OR IN PERSON, IN PENNSYLVANIA
MAKE YOUR VOTING PLAN
Know the Dates
- November 3: ELECTION DAY! Your mail in ballot must be postmarked by 8:00 p.m. to be counted.
- November 5: Your County Board of Elections must receive completed mail-in and civilian absentee ballots by 5:00 p.m.
VOTING BY MAIL
How Can I Check My Vote By Mail Status?
You can check your ballot status online, including whether your application has been approved, the ballot has been mailed, and whether it’s been received once you send it back. If you include your email address when applying to vote by mail, you should also get emails notifying you of changes to your ballot status. And you can always call your county office to check your status.
Could USPS Problems Prevent My Vote From Counting?
Given the recent Supreme Court decision, which could open the opportunity for contested ballots if received after November 3, we highly recommend hand-delivering your mail-in ballot to your county board of elections or to a drop box. Philadelphia County locations are here. We recommend against sending your ballot through the US Mail.
Can I Vote in Person After Requesting to Vote By Mail?
Election officials are strongly recommending against taking your mail ballot to have it voided at the polls. Poll workers have not been sufficiently trained on how to void mail ballots, causing confusion, chaos and long lines. If you’ve requested to vote by mail and have your mail ballot in hand, please complete the ballot and drop off at a satellite election location.
How Do I Know if My Ballot was Received?
You can check your ballot status online and if you include your email address when applying to vote by mail, you should also get automated emails notifying you of changes to your ballot status. You can also call your county office to check your status.
Where Can I Return My Ballot?
Find a drop box or hand deliver to your county board of elections.
What if I Lost My Ballot or Never Received It?
You can ask your county elections office to send you a new ballot and void the old one. (But if you find or receive your original ballot, make sure not to use it. It will not be counted once it’s been voided in the system.)
You can also still show up to the polls and vote on a provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot that is set aside and counted once it is clear you are eligible to vote.
Will I Be Able to Find Out When My Ballot is Counted?
Yes, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s ballot tracking website lets you see whether your ballot is counted. If you included your email address when you applied for the ballot, you should receive an email at each step, including counting your ballot.
How are Mail Ballots Counted?
Counties are allowed to count mail ballots beginning on Election Day — not before. It’s a multi-step process that involves scanning the ballot envelope to make sure it’s legitimate and to mark the voter as having voted; checking voter signatures to see whether they match what’s on file; opening the mailing envelope; opening the blank secrecy envelope inside and removing the ballot; and scanning the ballot itself. County procedures vary, but in many counties they also organize the ballots into batches based on voting precinct, so a precinct’s ballots are all counted at once.
Some of this is sped up through equipment that can sort mail, slice open envelopes, and extract ballots. The last step, of actually reading the ballots and tallying the selections, is usually done on high-speed scanners that process large batches of ballots at a time.
Elections officials in the Philadelphia region are planning to count ballots around the clock until they’re done.
I Have Been Hearing A Lot About Secrecy Envelopes – What are They?
Secrecy envelopes, the envelope formally labeled as “Official Election Ballot”, MUST be used in order for your ballot to count. Please follow all instructions when completing and returning your mail-in ballot!
How Do I Complete My Ballot?
- Complete your entire ballot in black or blue ink.
- Seal the ballot in the smaller secrecy envelope, then place that in the larger return envelope.
- Sign and complete the voter declaration on the back of the larger return envelope.
- Mail your ballot or return it in person to your county election office or another drop-off location.
You can also view this simple and informative video on how to order, complete and return a mail in ballot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVrccbriFEY&feature=youtu.be
VOTING IN PERSON
Where Do I Go to Vote, In Person?
This isn’t yet finalized. County elections officials are working to figure out which locations are willing to open as polling places. Your polling place might not be the same one you’ve gone to in the past, so check here often to know for sure.
Do I Need ID to Vote?
Only if this is your first time voting in that precinct, such as if you have moved to a new neighborhood or are newly registered. Otherwise, you won’t need photo ID and shouldn’t be asked for it.
If your polling place has changed, but you’re still in the same precinct, you don’t need ID.
When are Polls Open?
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 3. You can line up before 7 a.m., and if you are in line by 8 p.m. you will be allowed to vote.
How Can I Volunteer on Election Day?
Be a poll worker, which is paid! You can fill out this online form and the Department of State will tell your county you’re interested. You may even get a free lunch!