Lesson 2: Applying for a Mail-In Ballot
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Lesson 2: Applying for a Mail-In Ballot

Students will learn how to apply for a mail-in ballot. Eligible students will be able to send their applications in, while students who are not, or are choosing to vote in person, will complete the process to without submitting an application to gain the experience.

Warm-up/Check for Understanding

Discuss the homework reading in breakout rooms, or as a whole class: What are the best solutions to the problems described in the article and the issues we discussed previously?

Authentic Performance Task/Whole Class Activity

Applying for a Mail-In Ballot: Students that are actually applying to vote by mail will need a PennDOT ID or driver’s license to apply online, or their Social Security Number (last 4 digits).

  • Students that are not eligible to vote, or who wish to vote instead in person, should complete, but not submit, the paper application (Option 2 below).
  • Students go to Vote.PA.gov/MailBallot, the website of the Pennsylvania Department of State. They are in charge of the statewide regulatory administration of voting and elections. They pass on discretionary power locally to County Boards of Elections and Commissioners. The County Commissioners are elected officials in charge of elections in the city.
  • Click “Mail-in & Absentee Ballots.”

Check for Understanding

Ask students to read the first section and ask them: What is the difference between a mail-in and absentee ballot? Which do you choose? In almost all cases,
students should select “Mail-in Ballot.”
To apply for a mail-in ballot, eligible students have two options:

OPTION 1: Apply for a Mail-in Ballot Online

  • Students should use this option because it is fast, accurate, and the most efficient way to apply. They need a PennDOT ID, driver’s license, or Social Security Number. On Vote.PA.gov:
    • Scroll down to Option 1 and choose language
    • Applicant Information: Name (exactly as it appears on your PennDOT ID), Date of Birth. Phone Number and Email are optional, but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED so you can be contacted if there’s a problem and the state can send you updates about your ballot.
    • PennDOT ID number or Social Security Number
      • If students do not have a PennDOT number, they will have to take a photo of their signature and upload it.
    • Current Address (the residence where you actually live)
    • Mailing Address (if different from your residence, for example a PO box. If it’s the same, click “Same as above”)
    • Annual Mail-in Ballot Request: If you would like to apply to receive mail-in ballots for the remainder of this year and if you would like to automatically receive an annual application for mail-in ballots each year, please indicate below. (Choose this to receive both your primary and general election ballot by mail in one calendar year. Since the 2023 primary election has already passed, this option is moot. You’ll have the option to reapply for a mail-in ballot again in 2024.)
    • Declaration: Read and sign (if true)
    • Review and submit

OPTION 2: Apply for a Mail-in Ballot by mail (paper application):

  • If you have a printer: Scroll down to Option 2 and choose language.
  • If you don’t have a printer: Have a paper application mailed to you
    • Complete the online request form to have a paper application mailed to you.
  • Print your name (NEATLY, and exactly as you registered to vote)
  • About you: Date of Birth is required.
  • Phone Number and Email are optional, but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED so you can be contacted if there’s a problem and the state can send you updates about your ballot.
  • Your Address (the residence where you actually live)
  • Where to mail your ballot? (if different from your residence, for example a PO box. If it’s the same, click “Same as above”)
  • Identification: If you have a PennDOT ID it’s better to use the online application above. Enter the Last 4 digits of your Social Security Number
  • Declaration: Read and sign your signature (if true)
  • Help with this form: This is only used if you are physically unable to complete and sign your form. Otherwise, leave it blank.
  • Review the whole form to be sure it’s complete and legible.
  • Place in an envelope and seal. For the mailing address, find your county’s election office on page 3 of the mail-in ballot application form.
    • Your return address goes in the top left corner
    • A postage stamp must be placed in the top right corner.
  • Bring to the Post Office or drop into a blue USPS mailbox as soon as possible.
  • Your county Election Office will send you a ballot and instructions.
    • Look out for it!
  • In the meantime, you can track the status of your mail-in ballot at Vote.PA.gov/MailBallotStatus
  • You can also research the candidates and questions on the ballot.

For those too young yet to vote, they can make a plan to encourage their family members to vote:

  • Make sure they have the same voter registration and mail-in ballot information that students have.
  • Students can ask their family members to write down their plan to vote. Will they vote by mail or in-person on election day? Before work? After work? Help them look up their polling place.
  • The student can ask their parent to sit with them as they go over the voter guide and come with them when they cast their vote.

Check for Understanding

Use thumbs up/down/sideways or posts on a Jamboard to see who understands the process. Be sure students that are applying are able to complete the process.