Pennsylvania Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated October 10, 2013

Military and Overseas voters should visit FVAP.gov. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

Important deadlines

  • Voter Registration Form: Received 30 days before the election
  • Absentee Ballot Application: Received by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election
  • Voted Absentee Ballot: Received by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the election

How to vote by absentee ballot

Register to vote

Recommended: Use our Voter Registration Tool. Enter your information, print and sign the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form.  

You can also use the Pennsylvania Voter Registration Mail Application.  Mail your completed form to your County Voter Registration Office.  The addresses are on the form.  

Verify your voter registration

It's best to verify your voter registration before applying for your absentee ballot.  If there's a problem with your registration, register again before proceeding.

NOTE: Most people receive their voter registration cards in the mail 2-3 weeks after registering to vote. Don't worry if you lost your voter registration card. You don't actually need it to vote.

Make sure you're eligible to vote by absentee ballot

The following people may vote by absentee ballot in the state of Pennsylvania as long as they are registered to vote (unless otherwise indicated):

  • A person who is or may be in the military service of the United States, regardless of whether at the time of voting the person is present in the election district of residence or in the Commonwealth and regardless of whether he or she is registered to vote.
  • A spouse or dependent residing with or accompanying a person in the military service of the United States and who expects on Election Day to be absent from his or her municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • A member of the Merchant Marine and his/her spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying the Merchant Marine, who expect on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • A member of a religious or welfare group attached to and serving with the armed forces and his/her spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying him or her, who expect on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • An individual who, because of the elector's duties, occupation or business (including attendance of college in another coutny/state, leaves of absence for teaching, vacations and sabbatical leaves), expects on Election Day to be absent from his/her municipality of residence during the entire period the polls are open for voting and the spouse and dependents of such electors who are residing with or accompanying the elector and for that reason also expect to be absent from his/her municipality during the entire period the polls are open for voting (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
  • A qualified war veteran elector who is bedridden or hospitalized due to illness or physical disability if the elector is absent from the municipality of his residence and unable to attend his/her polling place because of such illness or disability, regardless of whether the elector is registered to vote.
  • A person who, because of illness or physical disability, is unable to attend his/her polling place or to operate a voting machine and obtain assistance by distinct and audible statements. (Note: A disabled elector may be placed on a permanently disabled absentee file.)
  • A spouse or dependent accompanying a person employed by the Commonwealth or the Federal Government, in the event that the employee's duties, occupation or business on Election Day require him/her to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period the polls are open for voting (7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M).
  • A county employee who expects that his Election Day duties relating to the conduct of the election will prevent the employee from voting.
  • A person who will not attend a polling place on Election Day because of the observance of a religious holiday.

Apply for your absentee ballot

Download and complete the Pennsylvania Absentee Ballot Application.   Mail your completed form to your County Election Office.  NOTE TO COLLEGE STUDENTS: being an out-of-state/out-of-county college student is not listed as a possible reason on the form, but it is a valid reason to vote absentee, as explained on the PA offical website.

Receive, complete and return your absentee ballot

Your election official will mail you a ballot and a return envelope.  Complete the ballot, seal it, sign where indciated and and return it to your County Election Office.  Your absentee ballot must be received by 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to provide ID when I register to vote in Pennsylvania?

There are no special ID requirements for registering to vote.  The standard form asks for either a PA driver's license number or the last four digits of your social security number; there is a box to check if you cannot provide either. 

Do I need to provide ID when I vote by absentee ballot in Pennsylvania?

Voters must provide drivers license number, last 4 digits of Social Security Number, or a copy of an accepted photo ID (listed below) when applying for an absentee ballot.  You may provide this ID to your county over the phone, by email or mail.  Your identity must be verified by the county board of elections before your ballot is counted.  You have 6 days following an election to provide the necessary indentification.  UOCAVA voters and voters affected by the Voting Accessibility for Elderly and Handicapped Act are exempt.

Acceptable forms of ID must contain an expiration date that is current, unless noted otherwise.  Accepted IDs include:

  • A photo ID issued by the U.S. Federal Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including:
    • a PA driver’s license or non-driver’s license photo ID (IDs are valid for voting purposes 12 months past expiration date), a valid U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID (active duty and retired military a military or veteran’s ID must designate an expiration date or designate that the expiration date is indefinite), a military dependents’ ID that contains an expiration date;
  • An employee photo ID issued by Federal, PA, County or Municipal government;
  • A photo ID cards from an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning; or
  • Photo ID cards issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences or personal care homes.

Can I vote by absentee ballot on a permanent basis in Pennsylvania?

Permanently sick or disabled voters may be placed on a list to automatically receive an absentee application prior to every election in which that voter is eligible to vote.  Call your County Election Office to learn more about permanent absentee voter status.  

I need an emergency Pennsylvania absentee ballot.  What can I do?

If you have an emergency and did not apply for an absentee ballot by 5 p.m. on the Tuesday prior to Election Day, you may apply for an Emergency Absentee Ballot. This application must be notarized before it is submitted: Pennyslvania Emergency Absentee Ballot Application.

Emergency Absentee Ballot Applications must be submitted to your County Election Office between 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before Election Day and 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.

How to obtain an Emergency Absentee Ballot if an emergency occurs after 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day:

If you become physically disabled or ill between 5:00 P.M. on the Friday before Election Day and 8:00 P.M. on Election Day - or if you find out after 5:00 P.M. on the Friday before Election Day that you will be absent from your municipality of residence on Election Day because of your business, duties or occupation - you must file an Emergency Absentee Ballot Application with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you are registered to vote.

Your application must be submitted to the Court of Common Pleas no later than 8:00 P.M. on Election Day.

If you are not able to appear in court to receive the ballot, you can designate, in writing, a representative to deliver the absentee ballot to you and return your completed absentee ballot to the county board of elections. 

  1. You must complete the Emergency Absentee Ballot Application
  2. You must also complete the Authorization of Designated Representative Form
  3. Your authorized representative must complete the Certification of Authorized Representative Form.

Your certified representative must deliver everything to the Court of Common Pleas no later than 8pm on Election Day. 

If you are not able to appear in court or obtain assistance from an authorized representative, the judge will direct a deputy sheriff of the county to deliver the absentee ballot to you if you are at a physical location within the county.

Can I vote in person before the election in Pennsylvania?

No, Pennsylvania does not allow in-person early voting.

Additional Information 

State Election Website: http://www.votespa.com
Email: RA-elections@state.pa.us
Local Election Officials: Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules and deadlines. 

 

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