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September 16, 2019

Pennsylvania launches online application for absentee ballot

Government Elections
Wolf absentee ballots Source/Office of Gov. Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania's new online platform for absentee ballot applications will provide greater ease and accessibility for voters to complete required forms.

Voters registered in Pennsylvania now have the option to apply for an absentee ballot online after the state's digital platform intended to simplify the process went live Monday.

Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled the Pennsylvania's new mobile-friendly site, noting that the goal is to reduce the hurdles to voting and improve turnout.

“Giving voters the option to apply for an absentee ballot online is another important step to make voting more accessible,” Wolf said. “Pennsylvanians have busy lives, so we must continue to modernize our elections and make voting more convenient for people.”

The governor had unveiled plans for the absentee-ballot application website last week.

Voters previously were required to complete applications by hand and either mail them in or hand-deliver them to their county election offices. With the online application, voters can submit their information online and receive their absentee ballot in the mail.

The deadline to apply for absentee ballots is one week before the election, or by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29 this year. County election offices must receive completed absentee ballots by 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Pennsylvania opened up online voter registration in 2015, providing an easy platform for more than 1.4 million people to register or update their status in the state since then.

Online applications for absentee ballots will be automatically forwarded to the appropriate county election offices for processing. They are available to individuals with illnesses or disabilities, individuals who will be away from their municipality on business on Election Day, and Pennsylvania students attending out-of-state colleges or universities, among others.

“This latest innovation will make the absentee ballot voting process more convenient and accessible and will save time,” Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said. “Still, we urge voters to apply for their absentee ballot well ahead of the application deadline, so the counties can get the ballots mailed early enough for voters to meet the return deadline.”