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Voters should return mail ballots ‘immediately,’ say Pennsylvania elections officials

  • Julia Zenkevich/WESA
Under state law, a person who casts a mail ballot must sign and date a declaration on the outer envelope.

 Heather Khalifa / Philadelphia Inquirer

Under state law, a person who casts a mail ballot must sign and date a declaration on the outer envelope.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State is urging people planning to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot to hand-deliver their ballots to a designated location ahead of the election next week.

Ballots must be received by the county board of elections before 8 p.m. on Election Day. They can be returned to the county election office downtown.

“It’s time to return your mail ballot to ensure it arrives by the deadline of 8 p.m. on Election Day. Do not wait until the last minute,” Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said at a press conference this week. “Hand deliver your mail ballot now to your county election office or authorized drop-off location to be certain your vote will be counted.”

The deadline to apply for a mail ballot was Nov. 1.

Voters can only return their own ballot, though people who are unable to do so can designate someone in writing to deliver the ballot on their behalf.

People who received a mail ballot but ultimately decided to vote in person should bring the entire mail ballot packet, including the pre-addressed outer return envelope and voter’s declaration, with them to be voided at the polls.

Voters who requested a mail ballot but didn’t receive it or no longer have it can cast a provisional ballot in person on Nov. 8.

Chapman said voters shouldn’t anticipate final results on election night.

“We will not have unofficial results on election night in every race,” Chapman said. “That is not indicative of anything bad or nefarious happening. It simply means the process for counting all eligible votes cast in Pennsylvania is working the way it is designed to work.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Mail ballots cannot be dropped off at polling places.

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