Pennsylvanians Urged to Hand-Deliver Mail Ballots Immediately
October 27, 2020
Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar reminded Pennsylvanians that today is the deadline to apply for a mail or absentee ballot for the Nov.3 election. Voters who still have their mail ballot are strongly encouraged to immediately hand-deliver their voted ballot to their county election office or other officially designated site, including drop boxes.
“If you haven’t already, voters with mail ballots should immediately hand-deliver your ballot to your county-designated location,” said Gov. Wolf. “Don’t wait until election day. Hand-delivering your own ballot now will give you the peace of mind that your vote will be counted, and your voice will be heard in this historic election.”
More than 3 million Pennsylvanians have applied to vote by mail, made possible by a new law the governor signed last year creating the most sweeping election reforms in 80 years.
Today is the deadline to apply for their ballot or apply in person for a ballot and vote early. Counties will mail ballots to voters once the application is verified. The deadline to drop off their completed mail ballots is 8 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
“Pennsylvanians have more secure and accessible options for how they cast their ballot than ever before,” said Secretary Boockvar. “Whichever method you choose, the important thing is that you cast your ballot and have a say in our democracy.”
As soon as the voter receives the mail ballot, the voter should:
- Read the instructions carefully.
- Fill out the ballot, being sure to follow instructions on how to mark selections.
- Seal the ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope that indicates “official ballot.” Make sure not to make any stray marks on the envelope.
- Then seal the inner secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope which the voter must sign.
- Complete and sign the voter’s declaration on the outside of the outer return envelope.
- For the ballot to be counted, it must be enclosed in both envelopes and the voter must sign the outer envelope.
Voters can find out information about the status of their ballot by contacting their county election office.
“Pennsylvania is well prepared, and we will have a fair election,” said Gov. Wolf. “Counting more than 3 million mail ballots may take more time than in past elections. All of us will need to be patient as county officials work tirelessly to ensure that all votes are counted. This could take a few days, but we must have accurate results.”
Voters who applied for and received a mail ballot and then decide they want to vote at the polls must bring their entire mail ballot packet with them to be voided, including both envelopes. They may then vote on their county’s voting system.
If a voter applies for a mail ballot but does not return it and no longer has the mail ballot and envelopes, they may vote by provisional ballot at the polls on election day. Their county board of elections will then verify that they did not vote by mail before counting their provisional ballot.
Additionally, if a voter’s absentee or mail ballot is rejected for a reason other than their qualification or eligibility to vote, such as a missing signature or naked ballot, they may vote by provisional ballot.
Under Pennsylvania law, voters may only return their own mail ballot. The only exceptions to this are for voters with a disability who have designated someone in writing to deliver their ballot, or for voters who need an emergency absentee ballot. Voters with a disability have several options for how to cast their ballots this election.
For voters with limited English proficiency, mail ballot applications are available in Spanish and Vietnamese. If voters have questions, or need translation services in other languages, they are encouraged to call the Department of State at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).
For more information on voting and elections call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit votesPA.com.