How Pennsylvania Voters Can Avoid Making Common Vote-By-Mail Ballot Mistakes

In Pennsylvania, more than 2.6 million voters have already applied for a vote-by-mail ballot for the upcoming election. [1] At Common Cause Pennsylvania, our top priority is making sure that voters have the information they need to ensure their ballot arrives safely and is counted.

To learn about how you can avoid making common vote-by-mail ballot mistakes that could result in your ballot not being processed or counted correctly, read on — then, use our sharing tool to send this information to your friends and family members.

When applying for your vote-by-mail ballot:

After you receive your ballot:

  • Read the instructions that come with your ballot.
  • Fill out your ballot fully (both sides!), either in black or blue ink.
  • Make sure you completely fill in the bubbles for your chosen candidate, without adding any stray marks on the ballot.
  • Insert your ballot into the secrecy envelope, and seal it. Do not sign this envelope or write on it, and don’t put anything else in this envelope either.
  • Insert the small white secrecy envelope with the ballot sealed inside into the large outer ballot return envelope.
  • Complete the voter’s declaration on the back of the outer ballot return envelope, printing your name and address, and then signing and dating it.
  • Make sure you write the address you’re registered to vote at, not the address you’re mailing your ballot from (if they’re different).
  • When you sign the back of the envelope, make sure you write the date that you’re signing, rather than your birthday.
  • Don’t forget to track your ballot!

When returning your ballot:

  • You can return your ballot in one of the following ways: mailing it to your county election office, or at one of your county’s drop-off locations (including drop boxes, satellite election offices, and county elections offices).
  • You do NOT need to put postage on your ballot — all ballots have prepaid postage (unless you live in Perry County — see note at bottom [2]).
  • Your ballot must be postmarked by November 3rd, although we recommend mailing your ballot as early as possible. 
  • If you are planning on dropping your ballot off at one of your county’s drop-off sites, make sure to do so by 8:00 p.m. on November 3rd. 
  • You are the only person who can return your ballot.

Other important things to remember:

  • If you don’t receive your ballot in time to vote-by-mail, you can cast your ballot provisionally at your polling location.
  • If you want to vote in-person (but have already requested your ballot) you can — you’ll just have to bring your ballot and the outer declaration envelope into the voting center with you and sign a declaration surrendering your ballot.
  • And, if you face any difficulties voting or just have a question about casting your ballot, call 866-OUR-VOTE, the nonpartisan voter election hotline.

It’s crucial that your family and friends have this information. You can play a critical role in ensuring that their ballots are counted in the November election.

Share this information with 5 friends by using our share tools — which will allow you to share this information via Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, text message, or email.

[2] Perry County is the only county requiring voters who choose to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot to buy a stamp, as they turned down the state’s offer to provide prepaid postage envelopes for voters to return their ballot. You can read more here.