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Department of State Launches Redesigned, User-Friendly Online Mail Ballot Application

Department of State Launches Redesigned, User-Friendly Online Mail Ballot Application

by Pennsylvania Department of State

Photo courtesy of Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Continuing the Shapiro Administration’s commitment to strengthening our democracy and keeping our elections safe and secure, Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt announced on Tuesday, June 11, that registered voters can begin requesting their mail ballot online for the Nov. 5 presidential election through a newly redesigned, user-friendly online application.

Under bipartisan legislation passed in 2019, any registered Pennsylvania voter may request a mail-in ballot without providing a reason. The redesigned online application, which is also available in Spanish and Chinese, provides clearer instructions for registered voters requesting their ballot and streamlines the application process. The redesign also improves the application process for military and overseas civilian voters by directing them to the federal form required to request their ballot.

This year, the Department of State is also launching the mail-in ballot application two months earlier than in 2020, giving voters over eight weeks of additional time to apply for their ballot. The application will be available until Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m., the last day to apply for a mail-in ballot under the law.

“The Shapiro Administration is focused on commonsense, practical ways to improve the vote-by-mail experience for voters. That includes design changes to mail ballot materials, which resulted in fewer mail ballots being rejected in April’s primary election,” Schmidt said. “We believe the ability to apply for a mail ballot online earlier, coupled with a redesign of the online mail ballot application, are further steps in simplifying the vote-by-mail process for registered voters.”

“Voting by mail is a safe, secure way for Pennsylvanians to cast their ballot and make their voices heard,” Schmidt continued. “Since no-excuse mail-in voting was established through bipartisan legislation in 2019, it has been a popular, safe, and secure way for voters to cast their ballot.”

Mail ballot applications must be received by a voter’s county elections board by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Upon receiving their mail ballot, voters should:

  1. Mark their selected candidates by following the instructions on the ballot.
  2. Read the enclosed instruction sheet detailing how to pack and return the ballot.
  3. Seal the ballot in the yellow secrecy envelope marked “official election ballot.” Do not make any stray marks on the envelope.
  4. Seal the yellow secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope.
  5. Sign and write the current date on the outer return envelope. Look for the symbol on the instructions sheet to determine where to place your signature and the current date. 

Under Pennsylvania law, a voter may hand-deliver only their own mail ballot. The two exceptions to this law are for voters with a disability who designate someone in writing to deliver their ballot and for voters who need an emergency absentee ballot.

County election offices must receive all completed mail ballots – whether they are mail-in or absentee ballots – by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5. Mail ballots received after that time, even if postmarked before 8 p.m. Nov. 5, will not count.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day for registered voters who prefer to vote in person.

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