Mail-in and Absentee Ballot

Voting by mail-in or absentee ballot is safe, secure, and easy.

In Pennsylvania, registered voters can request either a no-excuse mail-in ballot or an absentee ballot.

  • Mail-in ballot: Any registered voter may apply to vote by mail in the next election. You do not have to provide a reason for why you want to vote by mail ballot.
  • Absentee ballot: If you will  be out of your municipality on Election Day or if you have a disability or illness that prevents you from going to your polling place on Election Day, you can request this ballot type, which requires you to provide a reason for why you want to vote by mail ballot.

Before you apply, be sure to check your voter registration status to ensure you are registered to vote and your information is up to date.

Deadlines for the Nov. 5, 2024, General Election

  • 5 p.m. Oct. 29: Your APPLICATION for a mail-in or absentee ballot must be received by your county election office.
  • 8 p.m. Nov. 5: Your county election office must RECEIVE your completed mail ballot by this time. A postmark by 8 p.m. Nov. 5 is not sufficient. 

Missed the deadline to apply for your mail ballot? If you have an emergency--such as an unexpected illness or disability or last-minute absence from your municipality--you may still be able to obtain a mail ballot after the Oct. 29 deadline. Find information here about how to get an emergency absentee ballot.

How to Apply for Your Mail Ballot

Registered voters can apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot online with a valid PA driver's license, PennDOT-issued photo ID, or the last 4 digits of their Social Security number. 

Be sure to provide an email address with your application so you will receive ballot status notifications. 

Military or overseas civilian voters can find information here on how to obtain a mail ballot.

Step 1: Download and complete a paper application. 

Any registered voter can apply for a no-excuse mail-in ballot using this form:

Registered voters who can’t make it to their polling place on Election Day because of illness, disability, work, or travel can apply for an absentee ballot using this form: 

You can also request a paper application by:

Step 2: Mail your application.

Your county election office must RECEIVE your paper application at least one week before the next election. 

If you are a military or overseas civilian voter, visit the military and overseas voter page for information on how to obtain an absentee ballot.

Once your county's ballot is finalized and available, you may apply in person at your county election office or other officially designated location and promptly receive your mail ballot. 

You can vote in person by mail ballot in one trip to your county election office or other officially designated site. Once your county's ballots are ready, you can go to your elections office, request your mail ballot, receive it, complete it, and return it all in the same visit.

Learn more about voting in person by mail ballot.

If you have an emergency--such as an unexpected illness, disability, or a last-minute absence from your municipality on Election Day--you can request an emergency absentee ballot after 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election.

The deadline to submit your emergency absentee ballot application to your county election office is 8 p.m. on Election Day.

What’s the annual mail-in ballot request?

You now have the option to request to be added to the annual mail-in ballot request list where you'll receive an application to renew your mail-in ballot request each year. Once your request is approved, you will automatically receive ballots for the remainder of the year, and you do not need to submit an application for each election.

Learn more about the annual mail-in ballot request.

 

Third Party Ballot Delivery for Mail Voting

If you have a disability that prevents you from applying in person for your mail ballot or delivering your mail ballot, you may designate an agent to deliver your ballot materials for you. You must designate the agent in writing using this form or a form provided by your county.

 

Accessible Remote Ballot Marking Solution for Mail Voting

The Department of State is committed to increasing accessibility for voters with disabilities. Pennsylvania voters with disabilities now have the opportunity to mark their absentee or mail-in ballot electronically. Learn more about the accessible remote ballot marking solution.

 

How do I vote and return my mail-in or absentee ballot?

Below are general steps on how to vote, prepare, and return your mail ballot. Be sure to follow the instructions included with your ballot. Contact your county election office if you have any questions.

Under Pennsylvania law, voters must return their own ballots. The only exceptions to this are for voters with a disability who have designated someone in writing to deliver their ballot.

Step 1: 

Read the instructions carefully and mark your ballot. Be sure to complete the front and back of each page.

 

A paper titled "Ballot"

Step 2: 

Seal your ballot in the yellow envelope marked "official election ballot." Do not make any stray marks on the yellow envelope.

Your ballot must be enclosed and sealed in the yellow envelope marked "official election ballot" or it will not be counted.

A ballot inside of the yellow envelope marked "Official Election Ballot"

Step 3: 

Seal the yellow envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope. Sign and write the current date on the voter’s declaration on the outside of the outer return envelope. 

If you do not complete the declaration on the return envelope your ballot will not be counted.

The yellow envelope inside of the return envelope. Be sure to sign and put the current date.

Step 4: 

Return your completed ballot to the county election board. Absentee and Mail-in Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on election day at your county election board. To ensure your ballot is received by the deadline, return the ballot as soon as possible.

 

Calendar that shows November 5

Where do I return my ballot?

Voters may return their completed mail-in or absentee ballot to their county election board of election office during that office's business hours, or another officially designated location. Ballots must be received by your county election board before 8 pm on Election Day.

Vote In Person By Mail Ballot Before Election Day

If you are a registered Pennsylvania voter, you can vote in person by mail ballot before election day.

As soon as ballots are ready, you can request, receive, vote and cast your mail-in or absentee ballot all in one visit to your county election board or other officially designated site.

With this option, there is no need for mail at all, and you can cast your vote at your convenience. Learn more about vote in person by mail ballot before election day.

 

Identification for Mail Voting

In order to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot, you must supply proof of identification. Uniformed and overseas citizens and voters who qualify under the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped ACT do not need to show ID. All other voters must use one of the following options.

Option 1

Include one of these ID numbers on your absentee or mail-in ballot form: 

  • Current and valid Pennsylvania driver's license 
  • PennDOT photo ID card 

Option 2

If you don't have one of the documents listed under option 1, you can include the last 4 digits of your Social Security number on your absentee or mail-in ballot form.

Option 3

If you don't have one of the documents listed under option 1 or a Social Security number, you can provide a photocopy of one of the following IDs with your absentee or mail-in ballot application. The photocopy must show name, a photo, and an expiration date that is current.

  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Military ID (active duty and retired military ID may designate an expiration date that is indefinite). Military dependents' ID must contain a current expiration date.
  • Employee photo identification issued by Federal, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania county, or Pennsylvania municipal government.
  • Photo identification issued by an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning.
  • Photo identification issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences and personal care homes.

What if I miss the application deadline?

Last Minute Emergencies

In emergency situations (such as an unexpected illness, disability or last-minute absence from your municipality), you can request an Emergency Absentee Ballot after 5 pm on the Tuesday before the election.  

The deadline to submit your Emergency Absentee Ballot Application to the County Election Board is 8 pm on Election Day.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you already submitted a mail-in or absentee ballot, you cannot vote at your polling place on Election Day.
  • If you did not return your mail-in or absentee ballot and you want to vote in person, you have two options:
    1. Bring your ballot and the pre-addressed outer return envelope to your polling place to be voided. After you surrender your ballot and envelope and sign a declaration, you can then vote a regular ballot.
    2. If you don't surrender your ballot and return envelope, you can only vote by provisional ballot at your polling place. Your county election board will then verify that you did not vote by mail before counting your provisional ballot.

You can track the status of your ballot on PA Voter Services. If you provided your email address to your county election office at the time you registered to vote or applied for a ballot, you will receive an email notification when your returned ballot is recorded. 

The smaller secrecy envelope is intended to protect the anonymity of your vote. After you fill out your ballot, you must place it in the secrecy envelope and seal it.

Do not make any marks on this envelope. If you fail to place and seal your ballot in this envelope or if you make marks on this envelope, your ballot will not be counted.

The second, larger envelope is the mailing and declaration envelope. You must use it, even if you are dropping your ballot off at a drop box. Place your secrecy envelope (with your ballot inside) into the mailing and declaration envelope. You must seal it and sign and date the declaration before you can return your ballot.

Both of these envelopes must be used in order for your vote to count.