What You Need To Know- Registering to vote, early in-person voting and mail-in ballots

Written by on October 16, 2020

What You Need To Know- Registering to vote, early in-person voting and mail-in ballots

By Brad Klein & Jen Rehill, WLVR News

October 16, 2020

Please be patient: We most likely won’t know the results of the Nov. 3 election in Pa. and across the country for several days. Find out more about how WLVR News will cover election night and after.

The election is fast approaching – how do you make sense of it all? Especially with so much information coming from a variety of both reliable and unreliable sources.

So, every Friday morning, we take a moment to pause and look at the top stories from the Lehigh Valley and for voters in Pennsylvania, so we can help people know how to vote and ensure their votes are counted.

The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is Monday, Oct. 19 by 11:59 p.m. Register online, at Register.VotesPA.com. You can register by mail, but it has be received by Monday, Oct. 19. You can also register to vote in person at your county election office.

Check to see if you’re registered to vote at pavoterservices.pa.gov.

Early in-person voting has already started in Pennsylvania and in the Lehigh Valley for the first time in its history, thanks to a law that was signed in 2019.

People can vote early in person through 5 p.m. on Oct. 27 at two polling places: the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.; and the City Government Center in Allentown from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

These locations also provide resources to register to vote.

WLVR News reported this week that almost half a million ballots have already been cast either by mail, drop box, or in-person voting. And more than 2.6 million mail-in ballots have been sent out in Pennsylvania.

How do I fill out a mail-in ballot?

  1. Mark your ballot following the instructions provided.
  2. Seal your marked ballot into the white inner secrecy envelope labeled “official ballot.” Your ballot MUST be in the secrecy envelope to be counted.
  3. Seal the white inner secrecy envelope inside the pre-addressed outer return envelope where you must sign. Your ballot MUST be in both envelopes to be counted.
  4. Complete and sign the back of the outer return envelope. Be sure to sign the declaration, or your ballot may not count.

Mail-in ballots have to be either postmarked by Nov. 3 or dropped off at an official county mail-in ballot dropbox by Nov. 3 to be counted.

How do I return my voted mail ballot?

Once you mark, seal, and sign your absentee or mail-in ballot, you can return it by:

Check to see the status of your mail-in ballot at pavoterservices.pa.gov. You can see when you applied, when it was sent out to you by mail and when it was received by the election office after submission.

Counties such as Lehigh County only started sending out mail-in ballots the last week of September and the first week of October, so if you are still waiting for your ballot, it should arrive soon. Counties are still sending ballots out.

When is the deadline to return my mail-in ballot?

Once you fill out your absentee or mail-in ballot, you can:

  • Return your voted absentee or mail-in ballot in person to your county board of election’s office, or other designated location, by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Or, mail your absentee or mail-in ballot by Election Day. Your mail-in ballot must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day and received by your county board of election by 5 p.m. the Friday after Election Day to be counted.

What if I have a mail-in ballot, but I change my mind and I want to vote in person?

In order to vote in person if you’ve already applied for and received a mail-in ballot, you need to bring your ballot with you to the polling site. Talk to poll workers there to surrender your mail-in ballot. It will be destroyed on site, and then you can vote in person on Nov. 3.

If you don’t have the mail-in ballot, you can still cast a vote at your polling place, but it will be a provisional ballot. These are counted after the normal in-person voting ballots to make sure people don’t vote twice.

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