Starting with the April 28, 2020 primary election, just about any registered Pennsylvania voter can cast a ballot without setting foot in a polling place. There are several ways you can cast your vote. A voter can use the new mail-in ballot process, an absentee, alternative or provisional ballot.
If you’re a registered voter and won’t be able to make it to your polling place on Election Day because you’re institutionalized, ill, physically disabled, away from your municipality, observing a religious holiday or are incarcerated for a misdemeanor conviction or are awaiting trial, you have the right to vote by ABSENTEE BALLOT. For elections, beginning with the April 28, 2020 primary, you may apply online here.
You may also apply by mail, to download and print a copy of the Pennsylvania absentee ballot application click here. Send your completed absentee ballot application to your County Board of Elections office.
The last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot is 5:00 pm the Tuesday before Election Day. (However, we recommend that if you know you will require an absentee ballot you send in your application well in advance.)
Once the County Board of Elections approves your application, you will be sent the absentee ballot in the mail. Fill this out and send it back to the County Board of Elections. The County Board of Elections must receive your properly voted civilian absentee ballot by 8:00 pm on Election Day. Note: Postmarks are not honored.
Members of the military can submit an absentee ballot application and the ballots electronically. For instructions, see the PA Department of State's website.
Permanent Absentee Voter List
Voters with a permanent disability may request to be placed on a permanent absentee voter list. If you do so, an application will be mailed to you during the first week in February. Complete and return it, and you’ll receive ballots in the mail for that year’s primary and general elections, as well as for any special elections you’re entitled to vote in through the third week in the following February.
You may now vote by MAIL-IN BALLOT, unless you qualify as an absentee voter, in which case you must vote by absentee ballot. If you want to vote by mail you must apply for a mail-in ballot. You do not need to provide a reason or excuse if you want to use a mail-in ballot. For the election held on April 28, 2020 and for elections proceeding it, you may apply online here.
You may also apply by mail, the link provided by the Department of State should be available in mid-February 2020. Send your completed mail-in ballot application to your County Board of Elections office.
The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot is 5:00 pm the Tuesday before Election Day.
Once the County Board of Elections approves your application, you will be sent the mail-in ballot in the mail. Fill this out and send it back to the County Board of Elections. The County Board of Elections must receive your properly voted mail-in ballot by 8:00 pm on Election Day. You may also deliver your completed ballot by hand to your County Board of Election's office. Note: Postmarks are not honored.
Permanent Mail-in Voter List
Voters may request to be placed on a permanent mail-in voter list. If you do so, an application will be mailed to you during the first week in February. Complete and return it, and you’ll receive ballots in the mail for that year’s primary and general elections, as well as for any special elections you’re entitled to vote in through the third week in the following February.
If you’re a registered voter who is disabled or over the age of 65 and is assigned to a polling places that is inaccessible, you have the right to vote by ALTERNATIVE BALLOT.
The deadline to apply for an alternative ballot is 5:00 pm the Tuesday before Election Day. Alternative ballots must be returned to your County Board of Elections' office no later than the close of the polls (8:00 pm). Note: postmarks are not honored.
If you are a registered voter but there are questions regarding your eligibility to vote at your polling place, you have the right to vote by PROVISIONAL BALLOT. You may request and submit a provisional ballot if:
- You are properly registered to vote, but your name does not appear on the voter register and Election Officials are unable to confirm your status as a registered voter
- You are voting for the first time, but do not have an approved form of ID, as required by state law
- You are told by an Election Official that you are not eligible to vote, but believe that you are
Provisional ballots will be reviewed by County Election Officials within seven days after the election to determine if you were eligible to vote in the election. To find out the status of your provisional ballot after the seven day period, you can check online or call 1-877-VOTESPA.
Emergency Absentee Ballots
If you find out that you'll be out of town for Election Day after the deadline has passed, or if you become physically ill or disabled, then you're eligible for an EMERGENCY ABSENTEE BALLOT.
The Emergency Absentee Ballot application is available for download here, and must be notarized and returned to your county board of elections by 5:00 pm on the Friday before Election Day. Be sure to follow up with your County Board of Elections if you file a request for an Emergency Absentee Ballot.
If you become physically ill or disabled or find out you will be out of your municipality after the Emergency Absentee Ballot deadline, you can file a request in the Court of Common Pleas for an Emergency Absentee Ballot the day before, and up to 8:00 pm on the day of the Election. (The required forms are below.) In Philadelphia, the request must be filed with the County Board of Elections office in Room 142 of City Hall.
Note: Voters can have representatives file this request for them if they are physically unable to do so. In this case, all three of the below forms must be submitted and the application must be notarized.
- Emergency Absentee Ballot Application
- Form to authorize a representative for voters unable to file an Emergency Absentee Ballot application in person
- Certification of Authorized Representative Form for voters unable to file an Emergency Ballot application in person
For more detailed information on voting by absentee or alternative ballot, visit www.votespa.com.