Voting in PA: Absentee Ballots 101

By: J.J. Abbott, Deputy Press Secretary

October 20, 2016

The following blog is from the 2016 General Election. The dates are no longer accurate. Please visit for the most up to date election information.

If you are unable to attend your polling place in person on Election Day, you may be eligible to vote by absentee ballot. You must be already registered to receive an absentee ballot. If you’re unsure, confirm your registration.

Here is a straightforward guide on how to find out if you’re eligible to vote absentee and how to apply for an absentee ballot.

A voter needs to have a reason or an excuse to vote by absentee ballot. So, who can vote by absentee ballot?

Voters who are away from their municipality because of:
  • business, duties or occupation
  • leave of absence or sabbatical leave
  • vacation
  • college student living at school
Voters who cannot go to the polling place because of:
  • illness or disability
  • veterans who are bedridden or hospitalized
  • observance of a religious holiday
  • election duties
Voters who are:
  • serving in the armed forces or Merchant Marine
  • outside the U.S. for business and their accompanying spouses/dependents

Okay. You’re eligible. Now here are some deadlines to keep in mind:

  • October 21: Suggested deadline to mail absentee ballot applications
  • October 28: Suggest deadline to mail voted absentee ballot
  • November 1: Deadline for county to receive absentee application
  • November 4: Deadline for county to receive voted absentee ballot

Note: Absentee ballot applications and voted ballots must be submitted to and received by the county board of elections office by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the deadline. Postmarks do not mean “received.”

Now, here’s how to get your ballot mailed to you:

You can request an absentee ballot by:
  • submitting an absentee ballot request form (by mail or in person). You can download an application form from
  • sending a letter to the county board of elections in the county in which you are registered
Print, complete, sign and deliver or mail the application to your local county election office.
  • The address and telephone number for your local county elections and voter registration office may be found using the County Information Link at

In order to make sure you can get your ballot mailed to you and submitted in time, take these steps as soon as possible. If you have any questions, contact the Department of State by phone (1-877-VOTESPA) or email (




Visit to learn more about voting and elections in Pennsylvania.

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