The novel coronavirus outbreak has impacted all of us, including the state and county offices in charge of elections. You may encounter long wait-times on phone lines, or you'll have to leave a message. We have vetted these questions with senior staff who administer the elections. Please contact official City election offices if you need confirmation of our content or have more questions.
Mail-in Ballots - You Get to Apply & Change Your Mind
Q. What if I change my mind and want to vote on the machine after receiving a mail-in ballot?
Good news. You can go to the poll and vote on the machine.
- Do not mark up the ballot or mail the ballot. Note: If you've already marked up your ballot, tell the poll worker. You may be allowed to go through with the process or be asked to vote on a provisional ballot.
- Take your entire ballot packet to the poll with you. Tell the poll worker you want to "spoil" your ballot. You will give them your packet and sign a document stating that you changed your mind. You will then be allowed to vote on the machine. You have the power to choose.
However, if the poll line is long, you can submit your voted ballot at any Satelite Voting Center or official drop box. Note: You cannot drop off a voted ballot at the poll.
Are Mail-in Ballots Safe and Secure?
Q. I'm concerned that my ballot could be thrown away or not counted. How will I be able to check the status?
Voters in five states use vote-by-mail as their primary way to cast their ballots. Your ballot has a unique tracking number, which was assigned when you applied. You may contact Philadelphia's Board of Elections at 215-686-3469 or use the online tool to check your ballot's status.
We understand that you may have some concerns with everything that's going on with the Post Office. We do not recommend that anyone mail their ballots between October 29th and November 3rd. Philadelphia voters can drop off their voted ballots at Early Voting Sites or official dropbox locations.
Emergency Circumstances after the Mail-in Ballot Application Deadline - Same Day Service
Q- What if I didn't apply for a mail-in ballot but can't make it to the poll on Election Day because I'm sick, disabled, or traveling?
Emergencies After October 27th Mail-in Ballot Deadline: You may be eligible for an emergency absentee ballot if you are ill, disabled, or traveling outside of your voting district and did not apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot. A trusted friend or family member may pick up and drop off your application and ballot. Both of you must fill out and sign the Representative form.
You or your trusted representative may go to any full-service Early Voting Site to obtain or drop off an Emergency Absentee Ballot. Completed Emergency Ballots may also be deposited in an official dropbox.
Mail-in Ballots (Steps after I Apply)
Q. Will the City be offering drop-off locations for ballots before the election?
You may drop off your 'voted' ballot at Early Voting locations or at official drop boxes.
Q. What happens if I mail my ballot too close to the November 3rd deadline and am unsure if my county received it?
Check the Election Ballot Status page to see if it indicates that your ballot was received. Also, look for a confirmation email in your Inbox and SPAM folders. There are two different Deadlines:
Deliver in person by Tues., November 3rd, 2020, at 8:00 p.m
Possible Postal Delays: We recommend that voters follow the in-person deadline—received by the City Elections Office by Tuesday, November 3rd, at 8 pm. Do not mail your ballot between October 29th and November 3rd.
If you mailed your ballot and are not sure it will arrive by Nov. 3rd, you can vote at the poll on Election Day (November 3rd) by provisional ballot. Please make sure you tell the poll workers that you mailed your ballot to prevent them from directing you to the machine.
Q. I heard that it's illegal to touch someone else's ballot. Is that true? How can I help my sick or disabled loved one?
Yes, it is against the law to handle someone else's ballot, even if you're depositing it in a dropbox. However, if a voter is sick or disabled, a trusted family member or friend may deliver their ballot to an Early Voting Site or a drop off location if you both sign the Declaration form.
Note: If you are not sick or disabled, no one is allowed to touch your ballot.
Q. I never got my ballot? What do I do?
First, check to determine if your ballot application has been approved. If approved, a date will be displayed in the 'Application Process' column, and the status will be pending.
If your ballot was approved, you may go to an Early Voting site and request a Replacement Ballot, even on Election Day.
You may also go to the poll on Election Day, November 3rd, and vote on a provisional ballot.
Q. I received a notice that my ballot was canceled. What can I do?
If your ballot was canceled, you may go to an Early Voting site and request a Replacement Ballot, even on Election Day.
You may also go to the poll on Election Day, November 3rd, and vote on a provisional ballot. Check the City Commissioners website for details about ballot cancelations.
Q. I submitted my ballot and the status online says 'Vote Recorded.' Does that mean that my ballot has been opened and recorded?
If the 'Vote Recorded' status is displayed in the online tool before Election Day, your ballot has passed the initial signature and secrecy envelope scrutiny. If 'Vote Recorded' remains the status, a few weeks after Election Day, your ballot has been opened, scanned, and vote recorded. Check our Check Reg and Ballot Status page for more information.
Q. What if I change my mind about who I voted for after I mailed my ballot? Can I vote at the poll to vote for somebody else?
No. Mail-in voting is the same as voting on a machine at the poll.
Q. Will the polls be open?
Yes. Polls open on November 3, 2020, at 7 am and close at 8 pm. Some polling locations have changed. Check the City Commissioner's website for the location of your poll.>>
Q. I moved from another part of Philadelphia and didn't change my voter registration. Can I go to the poll near my new home to vote?
By law, you are supposed to vote at the poll where you're registered. You may go to your old poll to vote.