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How to Vote by Mail Ballot

Tags: Election
September 19, 2022 10:00 AM
By: Staff

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Pennsylvania voters have been able to vote by no-excuse mail ballot since the 2020 primary, and more than 5.3 million votes have been cast that way since then.

Today, let's walk through the steps to vote by mail.

First, you can request a no-excuse mail ballot any time between now and Nov. 1 (though earlier is better!) by going to

Once ballots in your county are finalized and printed, you will receive your ballot in the mail.

(Important note #1: If you are planning to leave town before Nov. 8, be sure to contact your county elections office to see if you need to provide an alternate address with your application to ensure you receive your mail ballot.)

What to do once you receive your ballot?

Here are your next steps:

Complete your ballot

Your first step is to read the instructions on how to complete your mail ballot to ensure your vote is counted.

You can mark your mail ballot with blue or black ink. Also, be sure to check both sides of the paper to make sure you see all races on the ballot!

Once you have marked your selections, fold the ballot and place it in the inner secrecy envelope that is provided (it's the one marked "official election ballot.") Do not put any marks on this envelope.

You must then place the inner secrecy envelope into the outer envelope, which is already addressed to your county elections office. Remember to sign and date the outer envelope

Here's a fact you might not know: Your outer envelope contains a barcode that specifically identifies you. So, when county elections officials scan that barcode, they automatically record that you have voted by mail ballot (and therefore cannot vote again by another means, such as in-person voting on Election Day). County election officials then separate your outer envelope from your sealed inner secrecy envelope so your ballot remains secret.

Return your ballot

To ensure your mail ballot is counted, you must return it to your county elections office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8. (Important note #2: Ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, but not received by your county elections office by that time will not be counted.)

You can return your voted ballot by mail or in person. (If you prefer video to explain the return process, click here.) You can also return your ballot to a drop box or satellite location if your county provides one (check the list posted here). And if you are disabled and are unable to return your own ballot, you can designate someone to return it for you (use this form to designate an agent).

Prefer to vote by mail and return it the same day? If you'd like to vote by mail ballot early in person, you can go to your county elections office (find that location here), request your mail ballot, fill it out and return it all in one visit. You can use this option through Nov. 1.

Of course, we all know life is unpredictable, so if you have an emergency (such as an illness or last-minute absence from home on Election Day), you can request an emergency absentee ballot after 5 p.m. Nov. 1. Find everything you need to know about that process here.

Congratulations! Once you've completed these steps, you will have successfully voted in the 2022 general election.

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