Happy New Year! While many of us took some time to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones, we at the Pennsylvania Department of State have also been working nonstop to prepare for the 2020 primary election on April 28, the general election on November 3, and all the big voting changes that are taking effect this year.
Last October, Governor Wolf signed historic legislation that will make voting easier for millions of Pennsylvanians. Beginning with the 2020 primary (but not for the special elections in February and March), here are just a few benefits of the new law:
- Voters will now be able to vote by mail-in ballot for any reason or no reason at all – just because they want to! Unlike our current law which requires an excuse for voting absentee, Pennsylvania will now join 31 other states and Washington, D.C. with mail-in voting providing increased access and convenience.
- The deadline to register to vote is extended to 15 days before the election, instead of 30 days before an election as is currently the case. Cutting the current deadline by half enables more eligible voters to participate.
- Voters can apply to be placed on a permanent mail-in or absentee ballot list. If they wish to join this list, they can request to receive applications for mail-in or absentee ballots for all primary, general and special elections held in a given year. Counties will mail applications to voters on the list by the first Monday of each February, and voters who return an application will receive ballots for each election scheduled through the next February.
- The deadline for voting absentee and mail-in ballots is extended to 8 p.m. on Election Day, instead of the current deadline of 5:00 p.m. the Friday before the election. This will allow more time for voters to submit voted ballots.
In addition to these changes, the Department of State has been hard at work to make sure that our elections are secure, so that every voter can have confidence that their vote will be counted accurately and their voice will be heard. From cutting-edge post-election audit pilots to new voting systems with paper records so voters can verify their votes, Pennsylvania is working closely with state, federal, and county partners and experts to lead the way in ensuring that our elections are secure.
If you have any election-related questions, such as whether you are registered to vote, where to vote, or how to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot online, visit votesPA.com for more information.
Here's to a great 2020 with more election security, voter options, and accessibility for all eligible Pennsylvanians!