State launches online application for mail-in ballots
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania is launching the website where voters for the first time can request the newly legalized mail-in ballots ahead of the state’s April 28 primary election, officials said Tuesday.
The mail-in ballots, part of an election reform law signed in October by Gov. Tom Wolf, now allow all voters to vote by mail for any reason. The website was live as of Tuesday.
Online applicants must supply a driver’s license number or an identification card number issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, as well as their name, address, phone number and email address.
Prospective voters can also use the site to apply for an absentee ballot, and they will be asked questions to determine whether they qualify for one. Those questions include whether they will be traveling on the election day or whether they are ill or have a physical disability that prevents them from voting in person.
The deadline for county election offices to receive applications is 5 p.m. April 21. The deadline for county election offices to receive a mail-in or absentee ballot in the coming primary election is when polls close, or 8 p.m. April 28.
Voters can also download and print the application and mail it to their county election office, or apply in person.
Wolf pushed for the new mail-in ballots as a way to get more people to vote. However, some county election offices are warning that they do not have enough staff to count all of the mail-in ballots on election nights.
Wolf’s top election official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, has said her agency is working with county election officials and studying counting procedures used in the about 30 other states that allow votes by mail.
Ballots may not be finalized until several weeks before the April 28 primary election, and will be mailed out after that, officials say.
The deadline for candidates for office to file petitions to get on the ballot is Tuesday.
Feb. 25 is the deadline to file a court challenge to a candidate’s petitions and March 5 is the deadline for a candidate to withdraw their name from the ballot, although court challenges may drag on past that date.