Pennsylvania ID requirements for voting by mail

COVID-19 Advisory: Pennsylvania’s primary election has been rescheduled from April 28 to June 2. Voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot rather than going to their polling place on Election Day. Absentee and mail-in ballot applications will be accepted through Tuesday, May 26, 2020. If a voter has already applied for an absentee or mail-in ballot, they do NOT need to reapply. If the voter cannot return the absentee ballot on time, they can vote a provisional ballot in-person at their polling place.

Who is eligible for Absentee/Mail-In Ballot Voting?

Pennsylvania has two types of vote by mail options for registered voters. 

  • Absentee ballot – If the voter will be out of the municipality on election day or has a physical disability or illness, this ballot type should be requested. The voter must list the reason for the ballot request and sign a declaration that they are entitled to do so, including the attending physician’s information if based on illness or physical disability.
  • Mail-in ballot – If the voter does not qualify as an absentee voter, the voter may apply for a mail-in ballot and must sign a declaration that they are entitled to do so. The voter may simply request this ballot without listing a reason.

To receive an absentee ballot, the voter must meet one of the following:

  • A person with an illness or physical disability  who is unable to go to the polling place or to operate a voting machine and obtain assistance by distinct and audible statements (Note: A voter with a disability may have permanent absentee voter status.) 
  • A person who will not go to a polling place on election day because of the  observance of a religious holiday
  • A person who is or may be in the military service of the U.S., regardless of whether at the time of voting the person is present in the election district of residence or in the Commonwealth and regardless of whether they are registered to vote *
  • A member of the Merchant Marine who expects to be absent on Election Day from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting *
  • A member of a religious or welfare group attached to and serving with the armed forces, who expects on Election Day to be absent from the Commonwealth or the municipality of residence during the entire period in which the polling places are open for voting *
  • An individual who, because of the elector's duties, occupation or business (including leaves of absence for teaching, vacations and sabbatical leaves), expects on Election Day to be absent from their municipality of residence during the entire period the polls are open for voting *
  • A county employee  who expects that their election day duties relating to the conduct of the election will prevent them from voting

* including their spouse and dependents residing with or accompanying them

If the voter does not qualify for an absentee ballot, the voter may apply for a mail-in ballot - no excuse is required. You must be registered to vote in order to vote by mail-in ballot.

Voter Registration

First-time voters who have not voted in a previous federal election, or who have never voted in their county of residence in a federal election, AND who did not provide either a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number at the time of registration, must present documentation proving their identity in order to complete their voter registration. First time voters who are voting in person must present this documentation at the polls. First time voters who are voting by mail/absentee ballot must enclose a copy of such documentation with their ballot request or ballot. This is required under the federal Help America Vote Act, enacted in 2002.

Do you need to submit ID with your absentee ballot or mail-in ballot request?

Yes, both absentee ballot and mail-in ballot requests require one of the following:

  • Pennsylvania Driver’s License or PennDOT photo ID number
  • Otherwise, last 4 digits of Social Security number

If the voter has neither of the above, check the box titled “I do not have a PA driver’s license or a PennDOT ID card or a Social Security number” in the Identification section. If this option is selected, the voter must enclose a photocopy of an acceptable photo ID that shows a NAME, a PHOTO, and an EXPIRATION DATE that is CURRENT, unless noted otherwise, such as Photo IDs issued by the U.S. Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, such as:  

  • U.S. Passport  
  • U.S. Military ID (active duty and retired military ID may designate an expiration date that is indefinite). Military dependents’ ID must contain a current expiration date.  
  • Employee photo identification issued by Federal, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania County, or Pennsylvania Municipal government.  
  • Photo identification issued by an accredited Pennsylvania public or private institution of higher learning.  
  • Photo identification issued by a Pennsylvania care facility, including long-term care facilities, assisted living residences and personal care homes

Some voters are exempt from these requirements, including:

  • UOCAVA Voters
  • Voters with a disability
  • Voters over 65 years old and affected by the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act

Do you need to submit ID with your ballot?

No, but the signature on your mail ballot must match your voter registration signature.

Last update: May 18, 2020

Hannah Piercey

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