HARRISBURG, PA — Governor Tom Wolf announced this week that more than 20,000 Pennsylvania voters have already used the commonwealth’s new online application to sign up to use a mail-in or absentee ballot for the April 28 primary election.
The Department of State launched the online application Feb. 11. The deadline for county election offices to receive applications is 5 p.m. April 21.
“The immediate popularity of the application site shows that Pennsylvania voters have welcomed the new bipartisan voting reforms and the convenience of mail-in voting,” Gov. Wolf said. “Pennsylvania has joined many other states in giving voters options in how they cast their ballots, making voting easier and more accessible than ever before.”
The primary is the first election for which Pennsylvania voters have the option of voting by mail-in ballot, without having to provide a reason for choosing it, thanks to historic legislation signed into law by Gov. Wolf last fall.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said the online site, where voters can apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot, is expected to see even more growth as the primary election approaches.
“Voters are already making great use of the opportunity to vote by mail for any reason or no reason at all,” Secretary Boockvar said. “We expect that in the weeks to come many more voters will discover the convenience of applying online and voting by mail-in ballot.”
Act 77 makes the most significant improvements to the Pennsylvania Election Code in more than 80 years, including longer voter registration periods — up to 15 days before an election — and permanent mail-in and absentee ballot voter lists. The voter registration deadline for the April 28 primary is April 13.
Pennsylvanians who are registered to vote now have several ways to vote if they choose not to go to the polls or are unable to get to the polls on election day: mail-in ballot or absentee ballot, both of which they can vote via the mail or in person at their county election office:
- Mail-in ballots are for registered voters who simply wish to vote by mail instead of going to their polling place on election day. They do not have to give a reason or excuse. They can apply online for a mail-in ballot, or download and print the application and mail it to their county election office. Voters can also apply for and vote the ballot in person at their county election office during business hours.
- Absentee ballots are for registered voters who will be away from their home municipality on election day or who have a disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polls. Absentee voters must give a reason when they apply. Examples of absentee ballot voters include college students away at school, members of the military, people absent from their home municipality because of work or a vacation and people who cannot go to the polls because they are observing a religious holiday.
Both mail-in and absentee voters will receive a ballot in the mail to complete and return to their county election office by 8 p.m. on election day. The online application allows mail-in voters to request that their county election office add them to an annual mail-in voter ballot request list. Their ballot application will then be automatically mailed to them each year. ID requirements for mail-in and absentee ballots can be found at www.votespa.com.
Counties must begin processing mail-in and absentee ballot applications 50 days before the election. For the April primary, that will be March 9. As soon as the ballot is finalized, the counties will mail ballots to voters or provide them in-person at the county election office.
For more information on voting in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of State’s website at www.votespa.com.
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