The following questions and answers are based on conversations with ACLU of Pennsylvania’s Speaking Freely podcast episodes with Donnell Drinks, Election Protection Coordinator from the ACLU of Pennsylvania; Alexa Grant, Program Manager at Common Cause; and former Pennsylvania deputy Secretary of State and election security expert Marian Schneider.
You can listen to the full episode of Speaking Freely with Donnell Drinks and Alexa Grant here.
You can listen to the full episode of Speaking Freely with Marian Schneider here.
Is it better to vote by mail or vote in person? It’s really up to the preference of the voter, but however you vote, take proper precautions and make a plan to protect yourself and your vote. If you’re voting by mail, make sure to follow the instructions, use both the secrecy and return envelopes, sign your secrecy envelope, and return your ballot as soon as possible. If you’re voting in person on Election Day, make sure you know your polling location, give yourself plenty of time to cast your vote in case there’s a line, and take safety measures to protect your health like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distance from other voters. More information on voting by mail and in person here.
What if I change my mind about voting my mail after receiving my mail-in ballot? You have the option to “spoil” your mail-in ballot by bringing the mail in ballot and the return envelope to your polling place on Election Day. So long as you bring both the ballot and the return envelope — even if you’ve filled out your ballot, a poll worker can spoil your mail-in ballot and allow you to vote in person.
What if I haven’t received my mail-in ballot by Election Day? If you were approved for a mail or absentee ballot but don’t receive it by Election Day, you can vote at the polls by provisional ballot. This allows the county to hold onto your vote while verifying that it is valid.
If you’ve already applied for and have been approved for a mail or absentee ballot but haven’t received it yet, contact your county bureau of elections now. They can issue a replacement ballot. Find the contact information for your county’s elections office at votesPA.com.
What if I make a mistake on my mail-in ballot? If there’s enough time before Election Day, you have the right to request a new ballot from your county’s bureau of elections. You can also bring the mail-in ballot to your polling place on Election Day and spoil the mail-in ballot so you can vote in person.
Will every Pennsylvania county have drop boxes for submitting mail-in ballots? Not every county will use drop boxes. Check with your county’s Board of Elections about whether drop boxes will be available. All counties allow mail-in ballots to be returned in person to the Board of Elections office during normal business hours.