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Lesson 6: Completing and Returning a Mail Ballot

2-3 weeks after applying for it, students will learn how to complete and return their mail-in ballot. (20 min)


Who has gone to vote with a family member (in any country)? What happens in a
polling place? Who’s in charge? How do people vote there? Discuss students’ experiences and
prior knowledge.

Whole Class Instruction

In the previous lesson, students completed a real or hypothetical mail-in ballot application. In this lesson, they will learn how to complete and return their mail-in ballot. It may make sense to wait a few weeks after completing the mail-in ballot application to do this lesson, so students can bring in the mail-in ballot they receive at their house.

Watch Video: How to Complete a Pennsylvania Mail-in Ballot

Completing and Returning a Mail-In Ballot:
❑ If you applied early, you should receive your ballot in the mail roughly 4-6 weeks before the election. You can research the candidates while you wait. Inside the envelope you will find:

  • Instructions
  • Ballot
  • Secrecy envelope
  • Outer envelope (addressed and postage-paid)

❑ Read the instructions.
❑ Fill out your ballot in black ink. Dark blue is okay too, but no other colors are accepted!
❑ Fold your ballot and insert it into the secrecy envelope. Seal it.
❑ Insert the security envelope into the outer envelope. Seal it.
❑ Read and sign the Voter’s Declaration on the back of the outer envelope—CAREFUL—your envelope must be signed and your signature must match your signature the state has on file from PennDOT or your Voter Registration form. Complete the information. Make sure to add the date of the day you signed th ballot.
❑ Deliver your completed ballot yourself to a county election or an official ballot drop box as soon as possible, but by 8pm on Election Day at the latest. Ballots delivered after that deadline will not be counted.
❑ OR, mail your ballot through the US Post Office as soon as possible, but well before Election
Day. In order to guarantee on-time delivery the USPS recommends mailing your ballot
no later than two weeks before Election Day.
❑ You must mail or deliver your own ballot, unless you are physically ill or disabled.
❑ Take an “I voted because ____” selfie for Instagram #VoteThatJawn.
❑ Make an “I voted because ____” Tik Tok #DanceThatJawn.
❑ Track the status of your ballot to be sure it’s been received and counted.

Check for Understanding

Don’t let anything stand in your way! Quiz or activity: Pose common roadblocks and problems and ask what students should do to make sure their vote is counted, for example:
❑ You don’t have a PennDOT ID.
❑ Your mail-in ballot never came.
❑ Your name isn’t in the book at your polling place.
❑ Your boss says you have to work a double shift on Election Day.
❑ The poll worker says your signature doesn’t match and you can’t vote.
❑ The line is crazy long.