Pennsylvania ID requirements for voting by mail

COVID-19 Advisory: For the November 3 general election, 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, October 27, 2020. If the voter cannot return the absentee ballot on time, they can vote a regular ballot in-person at their polling place if they bring in their absentee or mail-in ballot to the polling place and sign an affidavit spoiling the ballot.

If you need a photocopy of your ID to accompany your absentee/vote-by-mail ballot application and do not have access to a copier or printer, click here to learn how we can help.

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.

First-time voters

When you register to vote or vote for the first time in a federal election in your state, you must prove who you are:
  • If you register to vote in person, you must show a driver’s license, state ID, or provide the last 4 digits of your social security number (SSN), if you have one.
  • If you registered by mail and did not include your state’s driver’s license number or the last 4 digits of your SSN, you must show an acceptable form of ID (see below) at your polling place.
  • If you apply for an absentee/vote by mail ballot and did not include your state’s driver’s license number or the last 4 digits of your SSN when you registered by mail, you must include a copy of an acceptable ID (see below).

Here is a list of acceptable IDs: Documents that prove who you are

Your state may have other ID requirements for voting in person or for absentee/vote by mail ballot.

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 other signatures on file.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Hannah Piercey

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