Elections matter more than ever. Covid-19 is still with us here in ’22. In some states, Republican legislatures are working overtime to suppress the vote. The good news is, with Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail expansion, you have great options for getting your voted counted
Key highlights (details below):
- Applying for a mail-in ballot gives you lots of options (at the price of a little extra complexity)
- For mail-in ballots, it’s crucial that you fill out and SIGN the voter declaration and use the extra “secrecy” envelope! Failure to do either means your ballot won’t be counted.
- Even if you applied for a mail ballot, you can vote in person at the poll on Election Day.
- Dropboxes should be available starting in late October. In 2020 there were 12 secure drop box locations around the county for mail-in ballots.
- Need Immediate Support? Call the PA Democratic Voter Assistance Hotline: 833-PAVOTES (833-728-6837)
Vote By Mail
Under PA’s new laws, anyone may apply for a mail-in ballot, no excuses needed. If you want to use this option, apply now, to allow enough time for the process.
You can apply online or via paper application. You’ll need a PA Driver’s License, PennDOT ID, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Or you can apply in person at Chester County Voter Services in West Chester.
What’s good about Vote By Mail?
Here are a few reasons why we recommend voting by mail:
- Secure — paper-based and validated
- Safer – avoids crowds and risk of exposure
- More convenient – no taking time off from work, no standing in lines, no childcare worries, no worries about weather, transportation, emergencies, etc.
- More informed voting – time to stop and review candidates, etc.
- Higher voting participation rates in states that vote entirely or mostly by mail
- Can use a secure drop box to avoid return mail
Check your status before applying
Before applying to vote by mail, check your voter registration if you have any doubts about your registration status. (If you haven’t voted in at least two consecutive federal election cycles, your registration may be marked Inactive. Inactive voters will be removed from voter rolls if they don’t vote during an additional two federal cycles. If you’ve moved since last voting, you should also update your registration status.)
- Apply online at padems.com/mail
- Track your application and ballot using the PA Ballot Tracker
- When you receive your ballot, vote it and get it back in the mail as soon as possible
- Ballots received by 8 PM on Tuesday, November 8 will be counted.
- Or drop your ballot in a secure drop box (see below)
How to apply to vote by mail
For more information on voting by mail (either mail-in ballots or absentee ballots), applying online or downloading a paper request form go to:
Tips on filling out the online application
For a couple of important tips on filling out the online application, see our page on How to Fill Out the Vote By Mail Online Application.
If you previously requested a mail-in ballot at a different address
If a voter previously requested an absentee ballot to be sent to a college or other temporary address and now needs a mail-in ballot to be sent to their permanent address instead, the voter must call Voter Services at 610-344-6410 and make that request. (Mom or dad can’t make the request on their child’s behalf.) Warning: you’ll have to sit through a very long recording and just stay on the line. Don’t select any of the numbered options because, if you do, you’ll just get a different recorded message and then have to go back to hear the original message and options again.
When to expect to receive your mail-in ballot
The new law mandates that mail-in ballots will begin being distributed and processed 50 days before the election. See below for a link to check the status of your application if you’re concerned.
You should receive an email from PA Voter Services 5-7 days before they send your ballot, letting you know it’s being prepared:
YOUR MAIL-IN BALLOT WILL NOT COUNT UNLESS YOU DO THE FOLLOWING:
- The secrecy envelope, together with the completed ballot, goes into the outside envelope.
- Fill out and SIGN the declaration printed on the outside envelope.
Read the instructions carefully and mark your ballot. Be sure to complete the front and back of each page.
Seal your ballot in the inner secrecy envelope that indicates “official election ballot.” Do not make any marks on the inner secrecy envelope.
Your ballot must be enclosed and sealed in the inner secrecy envelope that indicates “official election ballot” or it will not be counted.
Seal the inner secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope. Complete, sign and date the voter’s declaration on the outside of the outer return envelope.
If you do not sign and date below the declaration on the return envelope your ballot will not be counted.
Return your voted ballot to the county election board. Absentee and Mail-in Ballots must be received by 8 pm on election day at your county election board. To ensure your ballot is received by the deadline, return the ballot as soon as possible.
You can mail your ballot.
Using the return envelope supplied with your ballot, make sure you use the proper postage (if needed) and that it arrives to your county election board by 8 pm on election day. Postmarks do not count. If your ballot is not received by the county election board by 8 pm on election day, it will not be counted
You can hand-deliver your ballot before 8 pm on election day to your:
county election office or
other officially designated site
Chester County has multiple drop-boxes for mail ballots.
VIDEO: HOW TO VOTE BY MAIL
Drop your mail-in ballot in a secure drop box
If you don’t want to use the mail, Chester County has twelve locations where you can drop your voted mail-in ballot in a secure drop box. These boxes are emptied daily by deputies wearing body cameras to assure clear chain of custody on the ballots. These boxes are located at 11 county libraries, as well as the main Voter Services office. For Tredyffrin, the most convenient drop box is at the Easttown Library and Information Center.
- Click here for a listing of all 12 drop box locations in 2020. Locations for 2021 General have not been announced yet.
Vote in Person
As always, you can vote in person at your polling place. Polls will be open and staffed from 7 AM to 8 PM on Election Day, November 3. Some polls may be closed or consolidated; check back here for details.
Note that you can vote in person at the poll even if you applied for a mail-in ballot!
- If you received the mail-in ballot, bring the ballot and all of its accompanying envelopes and materials to the poll. They will “spoil” the mail-in ballot and give you an ordinary in-person ballot.
- If you have NOT received the mail-in ballot, the poll workers will issue you a provisional ballot, which will be counted once your eligibility is verified.
- Don’t leave the poll without voting! Even if you don’t bring all the mail-in ballot materials, the poll workers should issue you a provisional ballot.
- Visit the new Chester County Voter Information Portal