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Voting by Mail: A Primer

Outer Mail Ballot Envelope

From 2020 through 2021, I voted by mail.

Now, I had good reason, as election officials are not able to get to their polling locations to cast their ballot, so an absentee ballot was the way to go.

Now that I’ve moved on from that position, I returned to my polling location in May to vote in person for the first time since 2019. But for you, dear reader, I signed up for a no-excuse mail ballot for November to explain how it all works.


The first thing to do is to request a mail ballot. Go to to get started. Your request must be made no later than November 1. Due to heavy volume, you may want to make your request as early as possible to ensure that your ballot arrives prior to Election Day.

Next, you go to the Ballot Request Application page.

Mail Ballot Request Application

After stating that you are not a robot, you will be asked a series of questions:

  1. Are you a military or overseas civilian absentee voter?
  2. Are you applying for a ballot because you will be absent from your municipality for the upcoming election?
  3. Are you applying for a ballot for the upcoming election because you cannot appear at your polling place due to an illness or physical disability?


If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions, you will be asked to apply for an “absentee” ballot. Otherwise, you will be asked to apply for a “mail-in” ballot.

Supplying Information
  1. Please provide your name and other information as it appears on your PA Driver’s License or PennDOT ID card.
  2. ID: If you have a PA driver’s license or PennDOT ID card, you must use it.
  3. Please provide your current address of residence. (as it appears on your voter record)
    1. Would you like the ballot mailed to you at the address above?
    2. Mail ballot to me at the following address.
  4. If you would like to apply to receive mail-in ballots for the remainder of this year and if you would like to automatically receive an annual application for mail-in ballots each year, please indicate below.



Ballot Request Accepted

You will receive email confirmation (if you have and provide address)

Ballot Is On The Way

The ballot is on the way. And when it arrives, then comes the heavy lifting.

The envelope comes to your mailbox. There are four (4) pieces of mail inside:

  1. Return Envelope
  2. Secrecy Envelope
  3. Instructions (English, Spanish)
  4. Ballot


3 (front) Mail Ballot Instructions in English

3 (back)



  1. If you have not already, do your research on the candidates.
  2. Follow the instructions on the ballot. Cast your vote.
  3. Fold and seal the ballot properly
    1. Put ballot in the secrecy envelope and seal. Do not place any mark, text or symbol on the secrecy envelope
    2. Sign and DATE the declaration on the back of the return envelope. Failure to put the date you complete and intend to return may prove to invalidate your return, depending on court action.
    3. Most county election boards now put “Today’s date (MM/DD/YYYY) (required)” under the voter’s declaration to (hopefully) ensure that voter’s will fill it out properly.


Mail Ballot Declaration

Finally, return it by mail (remember to include postage) or in person (drop off your ballot – and yours ONLY – to your county board of elections.

Congratulations! You have voted in the 2022 General Election. You can track the progress of your ballot with the Department of State’s Ballot Tracker.

Ballot Tracker

Now sit back and watch the returns right here at PoliticsPA.

3 Responses

  1. I used an absentee ballot several years ago. Since then, I’ve chosen to vote in-person. Has anything changed this year, or can I expect to be able to vote at the polls as I have been? I checked and I’m registered.

  2. It’s simple but if you are not paying attention you could goof up. Like any application for a job or to joint a club or to get a passport you got to pay attention to the instructions. I voted Mail-In and just dropped it off today. It’s very simple and the instructional flyer I got walking me through the simple process helped.


  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

    Total Voters: 112

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