Secretary of State Reminds Voters of New Mail-in Voting Options Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar today reminded voters that if they have concerns about coronavirus and wish not to vote in their polling place during the April 28 primary election, they can instead request a mail-in ballot, the commonwealth’s new voting option that allows voters to vote by mail without having to provide a reason.

“Thanks to the historic bipartisan legislation signed into law by Gov. Wolf last fall, voters have an alternative to vote by mail for any reason,” Secretary Boockvar said. “If voters wish to avoid going to the polls, they can still easily vote in the privacy of their own home or the county election office.”

Registered Pennsylvania voters can apply online to vote by mail-in ballot for the April 28 primary. The deadline for county election offices to receive applications is 5 p.m. on April 21.

In addition, the Department of State is collaborating with the Department of Health to provide county election officials with guidelines for conducting the safest voting experience possible in polling places on primary election day. The guidelines include information about sanitizing voting machines and providing sufficient supplies for poll workers and voters to wash their hands and to clean tables, voting areas and equipment such as ballot scanners.

To date, more than 22,000 registered voters have requested a mail-in ballot for the primary, while more than 40,000 have signed up for an absentee ballot.

Under Act 77 of 2019, Pennsylvania voters have several ways to vote if they choose not to go to the polls or are unable to get to the polls on election day: mail-in ballot or absentee ballot, both of which they can vote via the mail or in person at their county election office:

  • Mail-in ballots are for voters who simply wish to vote by mail before election day, instead of going to their polling place on election day. They do not have to give a reason or excuse. They can apply online for a mail-in ballot, or download and print the application and mail it to their county election office. Voters can also apply for and vote their ballot in person at their county election office weeks ahead of the primary or election, during county-established hours.
  • Absentee ballots are for voters who will be away from their home municipality on election day or who have a disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polls. Absentee voters must give a reason.

Both mail-in and absentee voters will receive a ballot in the mail to complete and must return it to their county election office by 8 p.m. on election day. ID requirements for mail-in and absentee ballots can be found at www.votespa.com.

Counties began processing mail-in and absentee ballot applications on Monday, the required 50 days before the election. As soon as the ballot is finalized, the counties will mail ballots to voters or provide them in-person at the county election office.

Also, under Act 77, Pennsylvanians can now register to vote up to 15 days before an election. The voter registration deadline for the April 28 primary is April 13.

Secretary Boockvar also encouraged all Pennsylvanians to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census. The Census gathers data that will be used to determine the commonwealth’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the amount of federal funding Pennsylvania will receive for important programs and services.

Pennsylvanians can respond online or by mail to the 2020 Census starting April 1, 2020. Information about the Census is available on the PA Census website.