Secretary of the Commonwealth Reminds Voters of April 16 Deadline to Apply for Mail-in or Absentee Ballots

Harrisburg, PA – With the primary election a little more than a month away, Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt today reminded Pennsylvania voters that the deadline to apply for mail-in or absentee ballots for the primary election is 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 16.

“Voting by mail remains a safe and secure option for Pennsylvanians to cast their ballots and make their voices heard,” Schmidt said. “If you would prefer to vote via mail-in ballot or require an absentee ballot, apply today to allow for as much time as possible to ensure your ballot is received on time.”

The primary election is Tuesday, April 23. For those who do not or cannot vote in person, there are two vote-by-mail options:

Mail-in ballots

Any registered Pennsylvania voter can request a no-excuse mail-in ballot. Voters can apply for their ballot online or download and print an application from the Department of State’s website, 

Absentee ballots

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, can apply for an absentee ballot online.

To date, 729,354 voters have applied for mail-in or absentee ballots ahead of the April 23 primary, Schmidt said.

Mail ballot applications must be received by a voter’s county elections board by 5 p.m. April 16. 

Upon receiving their mail ballot, voters should:

  • Read all instructions enclosed with the ballot.
  • Fill out the ballot by following the instructions on how to mark selections.
  • Seal the ballot in the inner secrecy envelope marked “official election ballot.” Do not make any stray marks on the envelope.
  • Then seal the inner secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope.
  • Sign and put the current date on the voter’s declaration on the outer return envelope.

Voters may mail or hand-deliver their ballot to their county board of elections. Under Pennsylvania law, a voter may hand-deliver only their own ballot. The only exceptions to this rule are for voters with a disability who have designated someone in writing to deliver their ballot and for voters who need an emergency absentee ballot.

County boards of election offices must receive all completed mail ballots – whether they are mail-in or absentee ballots – by 8 p.m. on Election Day, April 23. Mail ballots received after that time, even if postmarked by 8 p.m. April 23, will not count.

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day for those eligible voters who want to vote in person. 

The department's voter information website,, is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese and offers voter registration applications, a polling place locator, and contact information for county elections offices. It also includes tips for first-time voters, mail-in and absentee voters, elderly and disabled voters, and members of the military.

Media Contacts

Matt Heckel

Press Secretary
Department of State Media