Mail-In and Absentee Ballots

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Mail-In and Absentee Ballots

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In 2019 the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 77, reforming Pennsylvania’s election laws. Act 77 includes significant updates for absentee and mail-in voters. These changes took effect beginning with the June 2, 2020 Presidential Primary Election. For more information, please see Voting Reforms – Act 77

In 2020 the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 12, further updating Pennsylvania’s election laws. Act 12 provides voters who have received a Mail-In or Absentee Ballot – who do not wish to vote on that ballot – the ability to surrender their spoiled Mail-In or Absentee Ballot and Declaration Envelope to their polling place on Election Day, signing a statement to the same effect, and to then vote on the voting machine.

You may request to have any of the below applications to be mailed to you by the County Board of Elections, by calling (215) 686-3469. You may also pick one up in person from the Philadelphia Voter Registration Office, or from the Philadelphia County Board of Elections.

The City of Philadelphia has created an illustrated guide to help voters better understand the mail-in ballot process, from applying for your ballot to mailing it back. The guide is available to download in multiple languages including English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, French, and more. Access the guide here.

Deadlines:

All Civilian Applications for Mail-In, Absentee, and Alternative Ballots MUST be received by the County Board of Elections no later than 5:00 PM on the Tuesday before an election. Postmarks are NOT honored; applications must be in the office before the deadline.

You should mail your ballot as promptly as possible by Election Day or personally deliver it to the County Board of Elections office, satellite office, or drop box no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Philadelphia County Board of Elections
City Hall Room 142
1400 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Mail-In Ballot Application and Requirements

All registered Philadelphia voters who are not eligible to receive an absentee ballot are eligible to receive a Mail-In Ballot.

Apply for Mail-In Ballot Online (requires PA Driver's License or PennDot ID number)

Download Mail-In Ballot Application (English) (for Philadelphia County voters only)

Download Mail-In Ballot Application Instructions (English)

Download Mail-In Ballot Application (Spanish) (for Philadelphia County voters only)

Download Mail-In Ballot Application Instructions (Spanish)

Absentee Ballot Application and Requirements

You may be eligible for an absentee ballot if:

You are expected to be absent from Philadelphia County on the day of the coming election because of occupation, business, or duties (including leaves of absence for teaching, vacations, and sabbatical leaves);

You are a person who is or may be in the military service of the United States (see FPCA below);

You are away from home outside the United States (see FPCA Section below);

You are away from home at school, college, or university;

You will be unable to go to the polls because of illness or disability;

You must observe a religious holiday;

You are a Philadelphia county employee with duties on Election Day related to conducting the election. 

Apply For Absentee Ballot Online (requires PA Driver's License or PennDot ID number)

Download Absentee Ballot Application (English) (for Philadelphia County voters only)

Download Absentee Ballot Application Instructions (English)

Alternate language versions: Spanish (Download Application Instructions in Spanish), Chinese (Simplified, Traditional), Vietnamese.

If you are a registered voter who is permanently disabled or age 65 or older, and wish to receive an annual application for absentee ballots, you may request to be placed on the Permanent Absentee List. Completing the permanent application requires a physician's signature on page 2.

Download Permanent Absentee Application (English) (for Philadelphia County voters only)

Download Permanent Absentee Ballot Application Instructions (English)

Download Permanent Absentee Application (Spanish) (for Philadelphia County voters only)

Download Permanent Absentee Ballot Application Instructions (Spanish)

Those who are physically unable to personally pick up or submit an Absentee or Mail-in Ballot may designate a representative - in writing - to deliver the absentee ballot to the voter and then have that same individual return the completed absentee ballot to the County Board of Elections, by completing the form below.

Authorize a Designated Agent to Help You Obtain and/or Return Your Mail-in or Absentee Ballot (English)

Authorize a Designated Agent to Help You Obtain and/or Return Your Mail-in or Absentee Ballot (Spanish)

Emergency Ballot Designation and Certification of Agent Forms (English)

Alternative Ballot

Alternative Ballot Requirements: If you are a registered voter who is disabled or age 65 AND who is assigned to an inaccessible polling place, you are qualified to vote using an alternative ballot.

How to Determine if your Polling Place is Accessible: Click here to see which divisions do not qualify for alternative ballot use, or call the County Board of Elections in Room 142 City Hall at 215-686-3469.

 Download Alternative Ballot Application (English)

 Download Alternative Ballot Application (Spanish)

Assistance Completing Absentee or Mail-in Ballot

Those that are physically unable to complete their Absentee or Mail-in Ballot may be assisted by another individual of the voter's choice. The individual rendering assistance cannot be the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, an officer or agent of the voter's union, or the Judge of Elections of the voter's division. The voter and person rendering assistance only need to complete this form if the voter is not already designated for assistance on their voter registration file.

Absentee or Mail-in Ballot Voter Requiring Assistance Statement

Emergency Absentee Ballot

Emergency Absentee Ballot Applications: If an emergency (an unexpected trip or illness, for example) arises after the deadline for absentee ballot applications, an “emergency application” may be obtained from the Board of Elections, either in person, by mail, or by clicking the link below. Emergency applications MUST be received by the County Board of Elections no later than 8:00 PM on Election Day. Postmarks are not honored.     

Download Emergency Absentee Ballot Application (English)

Download Emergency Absentee Ballot Application (Spanish)

Emergency Alternative Ballot Application: In case of an emergency, you can submit an Emergency Application for Alternative Ballot, which must be received by the County Board of Elections by 8:00 PM on Election Day.

Download Emergency Alternative Ballot Application

Those who are physically unable to personally pick up or submit an Emergency Absentee Ballot may designate a representative - in writing - to deliver the absentee ballot to the voter and then have that same individual return the completed absentee ballot to the County Board of Elections, by completing the form below.

Designation and Certification of Agent Forms (English)

Designation and Certification of Agent Forms (Spanish)

Permanent Mail-In or Absentee Status Cancellation

If you previously applied to become a permanent mail-in or absentee voter but now wish to remove yourself from the permanent mail-in or absentee list, please complete the Permanent Status Cancellation form and return it to the County Board of Elections. This cancellation form will also ensure you no longer receive a mail ballot for the next upcoming election. You may rejoin the permanent mail-in or absentee list at any time by submitting a new application.

Request to Terminate Permanent Status (for Philadelphia County voters only)

Official Notice of Election for Military and Overseas Voters

FPCA Section

This is an official notice of a General and Special Election to be conducted on 11/3/2020 in all Election Districts within Philadelphia County.

You may register to vote and request an official absentee ballot by using the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA), available at www.votespa.com, www.fvap.gov or download here:

Download Fillable FPCA *

This application is acceptable for General, Primary, and Special elections for which you are eligible in that calendar year alone.  We recommend you send in a new FPCA every January and each time you move.

You may apply for an absentee ballot by submitting your FPCA by fax to (215) 686-3398, or by email to phillyelection@phila.gov

You may request an absentee ballot from this office at any time prior to a primary or election.

All voted Military and Civilian Overseas Absentee Ballots must be mailed back, along with the voter's declaration, no later than 11:59 pm on the day before the election and must be received by the County Board of Elections no later than the Tuesday following the election.

If time does not permit you to receive and return an official absentee ballot and you have already applied for an absentee ballot, you are also entitled to vote using the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). Military electors may also use the FWAB to register to vote and vote simultaneously.

You may use the FWAB to vote for ALL state and local offices, and ballot initiatives.

To vote for state and local offices or for ballot initiatives, write the names of candidates or ballot initiatives in the Addendum section of the FWAB.  Under the Office/Ballot Initiative heading, enter the office the candidate is running for or the title of the Ballot Initiative (referendum).  Under the Candidate Name, Party Affiliation or Initiative Vote heading, list the name of the candidate you wish to vote for, or if you are voting on a Referendum questions write “yes” or “no.”

Download UMOVA Notice (2020 General Election)

Download Military and Overseas Write-In Ballot (FWAB) *

* Notice about the FPCA and FWAB: There are four check boxes in the "1. Who are you? Pick one." section.  Individuals described by either of the first two options are eligible to vote for all offices (Federal, State, and Local) as well as Ballot Questions and Initiatives. People selecting the third option "I am a U.S. citizen living outside the country, and my return is uncertain" are eligible to vote for Federal offices only.  People selecting the fourth option "I am a U.S. citizen living outside the country and have never lived in the United States" would not be eligible to receive a ballot.  The PA Statute may be viewed here.