- This event has passed.
Voting in person is largely the same as it has always been. Polling places are the same as they would normally be, but it would be helpful to contact one’s county elections office or visit votespa.com to confirm one’s polling place. A small number of polling places have changed as a result of COVID. Voters who have mailed back their ballot may not vote in person. If they attempt to, they will be asked to vote by provisional ballot. If a voter requested a mail-in ballot but instead wishes to vote in person, they may do so if they bring all the following to their polling place on election day. Their mail in ballot will then be voided and they’ll be allowed to vote by regular ballot.
- Their mail in ballot, unmarked
- Their outer envelope, unmarked
- Their secrecy envelope, unmarked.
If the voter is missing any part of the above list, they will have to vote by provisional ballot.
“Drop Boxes” – Allegheny County Only:
Pennsylvania law now allows for ballots to be mailed or dropped off at a “drop box.” These are (in PA-17, at least) not actual boxes, but satellite locations a voter can visit to give their ballot to an authorized elections staffer. As of now, there are several locations across Allegheny County that will be set up to receive ballots:
- Allegheny County Elections Office, downtown. Regular business hours M-F, 9-5 Saturday, 11-7 Sunday through October 27th.
- North Park Ice Rink, October 24th 9-5
There are also many other locations across the county – go to www.alleghenyvotes.com for a full list. In addition to being used as “drop boxes”, voters who have not requested a mail-in ballot but who wish to vote before election day can go to one of the remote voting sites, fill out the mail-in application, receive a ballot, and cast said ballot all over the counter. This process can take anywhere from 7-10 minutes. It will take significantly longer than voting in person on election day.
Naked Ballots Issue:
Mail in ballots have two envelopes: Outer envelope identifies the voter who sent it and will be used to mark that person as having voted; and an inner (privacy envelope) that does not contain any identifying information about the voter. The ballot is sealed in this envelope to make the vote anonymous. While the process varies from county to county, this two-envelope system allows the voter to be recorded as having voted and the ballot removed and filed in the correct place for counting. The person counting votes does not see the outer envelope, which means the vote is anonymous. This is also why voters may not vote in person if their mail-in ballot has already been sent back to the election’s office. There’s no way to find that ballot once the outer envelope has been removed. A “naked ballot” is a mail-in ballot which has been returned to the election’s office without a secrecy envelope. The law and subsequent court rulings have determined that ballots not sealed in a privacy envelope should not be counted as legitimate votes. Voters should be reminded that you must place your ballot in both envelopes before mailing it back in.
New Voting Laws in Pennsylvania
For the 2020 Election, Pennsylvania has implemented a no excuse absentee ballot system. This program is commonly referred to as vote by mail. Essentially it allows any registered voter to vote by mail for any reason. THE DEADLINE TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN PENNSYLVANIA WAS OCTOBER 19.
How constituents can request a ballot:
- Go to www.votespa.com to apply online, or
- Pick up a paper application from your local county elections office, or
- Come to one of our District Offices and we will print an application for you to mail in.
- BALLOT REQUESTS ARE DUE IN OFFICES BY OCTOBER 27TH at 5PM. (You must be registered to vote to request a ballot).
- Once you get your ballot
- Mark the choices by filling in the bubble in blue or black ink
- Seal the ballot inside the privacy envelope
- Do not write anything on this envelope
- Place the sealed privacy envelope into the larger outer envelope, seal it, and sign the voter declaration on the envelope
- Mail the ballot or take it to your county elections office to return.
- Mail-in ballots may be returned by any of the following means:
- Received at a drop box (in Allegheny County) during that location’s normal operating hours
- Hand-delivered to the county elections office by 8pm on election day
- Dropped in the mail, postmarked by election day, and received by the county elections office by COB on Friday, November 6th.