Pennsylvania Launches Redesigned Mail Ballot Application for November Election

Pennsylvania State Capitol

HARRISBURG, PASecretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt has announced that registered voters in Pennsylvania can now request their mail ballots online for the upcoming Nov. 5 presidential election. The new application is designed to be more user-friendly and accessible, available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

This change comes as part of a broader effort to simplify voting by mail, a method that gained popularity after bipartisan legislation passed in 2019 allowed any registered voter to request a mail-in ballot without needing to provide a reason.

The redesigned online application offers clearer instructions and aims to streamline the process. It also includes improvements for military and overseas civilian voters by directing them to the necessary federal forms for their ballot requests.

This year, the Department of State is launching the mail-in ballot application two months earlier than in 2020. Voters now have over eight additional weeks to apply, with the deadline set for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

“The Shapiro Administration is focused on commonsense, practical ways to improve the vote-by-mail experience for voters,” Schmidt said. “We believe the ability to apply for a mail ballot online earlier, coupled with a redesign of the online mail ballot application, are further steps in simplifying the vote-by-mail process for registered voters.”

Schmidt emphasized the safety and security of mail-in voting. “Voting by mail is a safe, secure way for Pennsylvanians to cast their ballot and make their voices heard,” he continued. “Since no-excuse mail-in voting was established through bipartisan legislation in 2019, it has been a popular, safe, and secure way for voters to cast their ballot.”

Voters must ensure their mail ballot applications reach their county elections board by the Oct. 29 deadline. Once they receive their mail ballot, voters need to follow these steps:

  1. Mark their selected candidates according to the ballot instructions.
  2. Read the enclosed instruction sheet for packing and returning the ballot.
  3. Seal the ballot in the yellow secrecy envelope marked “official election ballot.” Avoid making any stray marks on the envelope.
  4. Place the yellow secrecy envelope inside the pre-addressed outer return envelope.
  5. Sign and date the outer return envelope as indicated on the instruction sheet.

Under Pennsylvania law, voters can only hand-deliver their own mail ballots. Exceptions include voters with disabilities who designate someone in writing to deliver their ballot and those needing an emergency absentee ballot.

County election offices must receive completed mail ballots by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5. Any mail ballot received after this time will not be counted, even if postmarked before the deadline.

For those preferring to vote in person, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

This initiative aims to make the voting process smoother and more accessible, reflecting the state’s commitment to ensuring all citizens can exercise their right to vote easily and securely. As Pennsylvania continues to adapt to modern voting methods, these changes represent significant steps towards enhancing voter participation and trust in the electoral process.

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