Shapiro Administration Reminds Voters the Deadline to Apply for a Mail Ballot for the May Primary Is Just One Week Away

Harrisburg, PA – Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt today urged Pennsylvanians planning to vote by mail ballot in the May primary election to apply online or in person now, before the May 9 deadline, and return their mail ballot immediately to ensure their vote can be counted.

"With just a week before the deadline, apply online or in person today so you have time to receive your mail ballot, fill it out, and return it by 8 p.m. on Primary Election Day, which is May 16," Schmidt said. "Remember that voters who apply for a mail ballot in person at their county board of elections office can complete their ballot and return it all in one visit."

To date, more than 683,000 Pennsylvanians have applied for a mail ballot and more than 63,000 Pennsylvanians have applied for an absentee ballot to vote in the primary.

Whether completing their mail ballot at home or at their county board of elections office, voters should read all instructions carefully and follow these steps to ensure their ballot is counted:

  • Enclose the mail ballot in the inner security envelope marked "official election ballot" and seal it. Do not make any stray marks on the envelope.
  • Seal the inner security envelope in the pre-addressed outer envelope.
  • Sign and write the current date on the voter's declaration on the outer envelope.

Voters should return their voted ballot to their county board of elections as soon as possible. They have two options:

  • Mail the ballot. Mailed ballots must be received by 8 p.m. May 16. Mail ballots received after that time will not count, even if postmarked by 8 p.m. May 16.
  • Hand-deliver their ballot to their county elections office, officially designated satellite office or drop box site. Hand-delivered ballots must be received by 8 p.m. May 16. 

Voters may return only their own mail ballot unless the voter has a disability and designates someone in writing to return it for them using the designation form on the Department of State website, or the voter requires an emergency absentee ballot.

Voters also have the option of voting at the polls on May 16, provided they have not already voted by mail ballot. Polling places will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters who received an absentee or mail ballot may vote in person on May 16 if they bring their unvoted mail ballot packet, including the outer envelope, with them to be voided. After they surrender their ballot packet and sign a declaration, they can then vote on their county's voting system. Voters who already successfully voted by mail are not eligible to vote in person in the primary.

Voters who requested a mail ballot and did not receive it or do not have it to surrender may vote by provisional ballot at their polling place on May 16. The provisional ballot will be reviewed by their county board of elections after the primary to determine whether it can be counted.

"Whichever voting option you prefer – by mail ballot, in person by mail ballot at your county elections office, or at the polls on Primary Election Day – make sure your voice is heard," Schmidt said. "If you choose to vote by mail ballot, be sure you act quickly by completing and returning your mail ballot now."

Only voters registered as Democrats or Republicans may select nominees in the primary to represent their party in the Nov. 7 general election. However, on May 16, all registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, will be able to vote on any local ballot questions and in special elections in the following districts: 

  • 108th Legislative District for state representative in parts of Montour and Northumberland counties, and
  • 163rd Legislative District for state representative in parts of Delaware County. 

For more information on voting and elections, visit or call the Department of State's year-round hotline, 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772), which offers information and interpretation services in more than 200 languages.  


Media Contacts

Matt Heckel

Press Secretary
Department of State Media