Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Voting Basics
Mail-in & Absentee Ballots
COVID-19
Election Integrity
Act 77

If you still need help, you can reach us by email at DelcoElection@co.delaware.pa.us or by phone at (610) 891-VOTE (8683).



VOTING BASICS

I want to vote. How does this work?

In order to vote, you must first register to vote. To register in Pennsylvania, you must meet the following requirements:

be a citizen of the United States at least one month before the next election,

be a resident of Pennsylvania and your election district at least 30 days before the election, and

be at least 18 years of age on the day of the next election.

Go to our Voter Registration or How to Vote pages for more information.

What time do the polls open and close?

Polls in Pennsylvania open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. Registered voters who are in line at 8:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Where is my polling place?

Visit the Your Polling Place page to quickly locate your polling place.

My voter registration may not be up-to-date, and I may need to update my address/name. What should I do?

You can contact Voter Registration at (610) 891-4659 or visit the office in the Government Center at the County Courthouse in Media to verify your voter registration records.

Can I vote early in Delaware County?

Early voting is typically defined as a process where citizens of some states can cast ballots in-person, at a polling place, days or even weeks prior to the official election day. This type of early voting is not authorized in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Polls will be open only on Tuesday, November 3, between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8 p.m.

However, voters in Delaware County can submit mail-in or absentee ballots prior to election day. Voters also have the ability to both apply for and cast their ballot at any Voter Service Center (located in Media, Upper Darby or Chester) or our Mobile Voter Service Center (locations and dates to be announced).

Voters who have applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot can return their voted ballots prior to (or on) election day by:

Mailing the completed mail-in/absentee ballot

Hand delivering the completed mail-in/absentee ballot to Voter Service Centers located in Media, Upper Darby or Chester

Hand delivering the completed mail-in/absentee ballot to a Ballot Drop Box (locations listed at link)

What is a naked ballot?

When ballots are mailed to voters, there are two envelopes in the packet they receive: a smaller secrecy envelope marked “OFFICIAL ELECTION BALLOT” and a larger mailing envelope upon which is printed “VOTER’S DECLARATION” on the back side and which is addressed to the County Bureau of Elections. Naked ballots are mail-in and absentee ballots that arrive at the Bureau of Elections without the inner “secrecy envelopes.”

A recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that “a mail-in ballot that is not enclosed in the statutorily mandated secrecy envelope must be disqualified.” In other words, so-called “naked ballots” are rendered invalid. Prior to this year, Delaware County has operated in accordance with this rule, and it will follow the law as determined by the PA Supreme Court.

Voters should carefully follow the instructions included alongside their mail-in or absentee ballot. The ballot should be placed in the secrecy envelope and securely sealed. This envelope should then be placed in the larger mailing envelope.

I have been convicted of a felony. Can I vote?

You can register and vote if you:

Are a pretrial detainee, confined in a penal institution awaiting trial on charges of a felony or a misdemeanor.

Were ever convicted of a misdemeanor.

Got released or will get released by the date of the next election from a correctional facility or halfway house. This must be upon completion of the term of incarceration for conviction of a misdemeanor or a felony.

Are on probation or released on parole. This includes parolees who are living in a halfway house.

Are under house arrest (home confinement). If this is you, you can vote no matter your conviction status or the status of the conditions of confinement.


You are not eligible to register and vote if you:

Are currently confined in a penal institution for conviction of a felony and will not get released from confinement until after the next election. This is even if you are also incarcerated for one or more misdemeanor offenses.

Are in a halfway house or other alternative correctional facility on pre-release status for conviction of a felony and who will not get released until after the date of the next election.

Got convicted of violating any provision of the Pennsylvania Election Code within the last four years.


When registering to vote, you cannot use a penal institution or a halfway house as your residence address where you live. However, you may use these locations as an address to receive mail.



MAIL-IN AND ABSENTEE BALLOTS

Where are the ballot drop boxes?

On Friday, October 16, the Delaware County Bureau of Elections released a preliminary list of 32 ballot drop boxes, dispersed throughout municipalities across the county, that would be active on Tuesday, October 20 at 8 a.m. This is in addition to the three ballot drop boxes located at our Voter Service Centers in Media, Upper Darby, and Chester. The list may continue to be updated with additional sites prior to Election Day. Please visit our Ballot Drop Box page for current listings, complete listing of locations and hours of operation.

What is a naked ballot?

When ballots are mailed to voters, there are two envelopes in the packet they receive: a smaller secrecy envelope marked “OFFICIAL ELECTION BALLOT” and a larger mailing envelope upon which is printed “VOTER’S DECLARATION” on the back side and which is addressed to the County Bureau of Elections. Naked ballots are mail-in and absentee ballots that arrive at the Bureau of Elections without the inner “secrecy envelopes.”

A recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that “a mail-in ballot that is not enclosed in the statutorily mandated secrecy envelope must be disqualified.” In other words, so-called “naked ballots” are rendered invalid. Prior to this year, Delaware County has operated in accordance with this rule, and it will follow the law as determined by the PA Supreme Court.

Voters should carefully follow the instructions included alongside their mail-in or absentee ballot. The ballot should be placed in the secrecy envelope and securely sealed. This envelope should then be placed in the larger mailing envelope.

Can I vote by mail? / How do I sign up for a mail-in ballot?

First, you must be registered to vote. All registered voters may apply for a mail-in ballot.

There are four options to apply for a mail-in ballot:

  1. You can apply for a mail-in ballot using the state’s online Ballot Request Application form. You’ll be asked to use your driver’s license or PennDOT ID number if you have one, or else the last four digits of your Social Security number along with a picture of your signature.

  2. You can download and return a paper copy of the Pennsylvania Application for Mail-In Ballot to the Delaware County Bureau of Elections.

  3. You can call (610) 891-VOTE (8683) and request that a copy of the paper application be mailed to you.

  4. You can visit a Delaware County Voter Service Center (located in Media, Upper Darby, and Chester) and request an application in person. In addition, if you successfully complete the application on-site, you will have the option of immediately receiving your ballot and submitting your voted ballot at the Voter Service Center, or taking it with you to return at a later time (either by mail, at the Voter Service Center, or at a Delaware County Ballot Drop Box).

What’s the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot?

The last day to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot is Tuesday, October 27. However, we strongly encourage you to apply earlier to allow time for processing and mail delivery.

When do I have to return a mail-in ballot?

Voted ballots must be delivered to the Board of Elections no later than 8:00 PM on the day of the Election. However, per Order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, ballots returned by mail (as opposed to those returned in person or via an approved ballot drop box) are deemed to have been timely returned if they are postmarked before 8:00 PM on November 3, 2020; under that same court Order, ballots returned by mail that have an illegible or missing postmark are deemed to have been timely returned if they are received by the Board of Elections prior to 5:00 PM on November 6, 2020.

What’s the difference between absentee voting and mail-in voting?

Absentee voting is stipulated in the Pennsylvania Constitution for qualified voters who will be absent from their municipality on election day or who have an illness or disability that prevents them from going to the polls. Mail-in voting, sometimes called no-excuse absentee voting, was made possible by Act 77 in October 2019. Any registered voter may apply for a mail-in ballot and does not have to provide a reason. Each method for voting by mail has its own application form.

There are no differences in the general process for absentee and mail-in voting or in the ballots that are sent.

What if I request a mail-in/absentee ballot and then decide I want to vote in-person at my polling location?

As we have already begun to print and prepare ballots for mail delivery, it is too late to cancel a request for a mail-in/absentee ballot. However, you are not obliged to use a vote-by-mail ballot after you request it.

If you receive a mail-in/absentee ballot but decide you would prefer to vote in person at your polling place, you can do so. You must bring your ballot in its mailing envelope with you on Election Day, inform the poll workers that you would like to spoil your ballot and vote in-person instead, and surrender it to your precinct Judge of Elections. You can then cast a regular in-person ballot.

If you do not have your mail-in/absentee ballot to surrender at your polling place, you may cast a provisional ballot. This will be counted only if the Bureau of Elections does not receive the mail-in/absentee ballot that was sent to you.

The process for surrendering a mail-in/absentee ballot is as follows. You will fill out an affidavit stating your intention to void your mail-in/absentee ballot. A poll worker will affix the affidavit to the envelope containing your ballot, mark the envelope as spoiled, and place it in the provided pouch with other spoiled ballots. You will then be able to vote in-person at the polling place.

I applied for a mail-in ballot. I haven’t received anything yet—where is it?

The Delaware County Bureau of Elections plans to begin sending out mail-in and absentee ballots at the beginning of October. Voters already approved for a mail-in or absentee ballot can expect to receive their ballots in the beginning of October.

Please check your Election Ballot Status on the State’s website to track the official status of your ballot. It shows the date your application has been processed, the date your ballot has been mailed to you, and the date the Bureau of Elections has received your voted ballot. A status of “Pending” means your application has been approved and is pending ballot release.

If your application for a mail-in ballot has not been processed, your status will not appear in the system. You will see an error message: “We are unable to match your information with our records.” Allow at least three weeks for your application to be processed.

I can’t remember if I applied in the spring for my mail-in or absentee ballot. How can I find out?

You can use the ballot tracker to determine if there is an approved request on file. If there is, under “Election” it will say 2020 General Election, “Application Received” and “Application Processed” will show the date your application was processed before the primary, and “Ballot Status” will read Pending.

Track the Status of Your Mail in or Absentee Ballot

I signed up to vote by mail for the primary and I may have signed up for the “Annual” mail-in/absentee option. Can you explain how this works?

On the application for a mail-in or absentee ballot, there is an option to sign up for annual mail-in/absentee voter status. Selecting this option does two things:

  1. It signs you up to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for all elections in the calendar year in which you applied. So, if you selected this option on your application to vote by mail in the primary, you will automatically receive a mail-in/absentee ballot for the general election; and

  2. Selecting this option means you will receive an application each year in February to renew your request to receive a mail-in/absentee ballot. Once your application is approved, you will automatically receive ballots for all elections in that calendar year, and you will not need to submit a new application for each election.

Keep in mind that you are not obliged to vote by mail even if you receive a mail-in or absentee ballot. You cannot vote twice, but you may take your ballot to your polling location and surrender it to your precinct Judge of Elections. You can then cast a regular in-person ballot.

I got an email saying my application for a mail-in ballot was rejected, why did that happen?

If you signed up for annual mail-in/absentee status before the primary election and then applied for a mail-in/absentee ballot again after the June 2020 Primary Election, the second application will be rejected because we already have the first request on file. You are set to receive a mail-in/absentee ballot for the November 2020 General Election.

I’m worried that my mail-in/absentee ballot won’t arrive in time. What should I do?

If you are concerned that there will not be enough time for your mail-in/absentee ballot to be received by the deadline, you have several options. You can return your voted mail-in/absentee ballot in person to one of the three Delaware County Voter Service Centers or to any Delaware County Ballot Drop Box. Note that you can only hand-deliver your own ballot, not someone else’s (except in cases of disability).

If you have not yet applied for a mail-in/absentee ballot and are concerned that the process will take too long for you to vote, you can simply go directly to one of our three Voter Service Centers to vote. We will process your application and hand you your ballot; you may then vote your ballot in the office and submit it immediately or take it home with you.

We recommend you bring a form of ID and a completed application for a mail-in or absentee ballot (if you do not have an application, one will be provided).

I’ve already mailed my mail-in/absentee ballot, but I am concerned it will not be received in time. What should I do?

If you have mailed your completed ballot but are concerned that it will not reach the Bureau of Elections by the deadline, you may go to your polling place and cast a provisional ballot. This provisional ballot will be counted only if your mail-in/absentee ballot is not received by the deadline.

I did not request a mail-in ballot application, but one was mailed to me. Why?

There are some third-party organizations, such as the Center for Voter Information, that are sending mail-in ballot applications to voters. Delaware County has not and will not send any applications unless requested by the voter. If you have already applied to vote by mail, you do not need to apply again.

I, or someone I know, requires assistance to apply for a mail-in ballot and/or return a mail-in ballot and/or vote in person. How can I help?

Voters who need help may have a person of their choice assist them in filling out a mail-in or absentee ballot application and the ballot itself. Both the application and the ballot have a space for a witness signature if the voter is unable to provide their own signature.

If you need help voting in person due to a disability, you may bring a person of your choice to assist you in the voting process. The first time you have someone help you vote, the election officials at your polling place will ask you to complete and sign a form called a Declaration of Need of Assistance. After the first time, your registration record will note that you completed the form.

Polling locations in Delaware County will have the Hart Verity Touch Writer to assist voters in marking their paper ballot. Visit the VotesPA website for more information regarding the Delaware County voting system.

Will the United States Postal Service (USPS) forward my mail-in ballot?

No. But when you apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot, you can provide a secondary mail-to address and the Bureau of Elections will send your ballot there.

If you requested a mail-in or absentee ballot to be sent to an address at which you are not currently residing, this ballot can be canceled and another one re-issued. To do so, send us a letter or email stating the address to which the ballot you wish to cancel was sent and the address to which you would like the ballot re-issued. Note that should you somehow receive the canceled ballot, it cannot be returned (its unique barcode will not scan into our system), and you will have to wait for the second.

Due to an emergency, I cannot vote at my polling place on Election Day and I’ve missed the deadline to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot. What can I do?

In the event that the emergency occurs between 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 27 and Friday, October 30, you can submit an Emergency Application for Absentee Ballot. The application must be notarized prior to submitting the application. Once approved, the voted emergency ballot must still be received by the County Board of Elections by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3.

I will be abroad during the election; how can I vote?

To apply for an absentee ballot as a military or civilian overseas voter, you can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and request an absentee ballot. You can email the application as an attachment to DelcoElection@co.delaware.pa.us or mail it to the Delaware County Bureau of Elections:

Delaware County Bureau of Elections
201 West Front Street
Media, PA 19063-2728

The deadline to register to vote is October 19. The application for an overseas absentee ballot must be received by November 2. For more information, see the Federal Post Card Application Guide for Pennsylvania.

You can select to receive your absentee ballot by email/online, fax, or mail. Once you receive the absentee ballot, mark it and submit it for delivery by mail no later than 11:59 p.m. on November 2. The Bureau of Elections must receive voted military and overseas absentee ballots by 5:00 p.m. on November 10.

If you do not receive your absentee ballot in time to return it to participate in the election, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot. This is an official backup ballot that is blank, meaning it does not include the names of any candidates. You can review this Notice to determine for which offices and questions you are able to cast a vote.

For more information, visit the Information for Military and Overseas Voters web page.



COVID-19

What safety precautions will be in place to protect voters and poll workers from COVID-19 on election day?

There will be written COVID-19 procedures provided to poll workers at each location.

All polling places will be provided with a COVID-19 PPE Kit that will include disinfectant spray, hand sanitizer, wipes, gloves, face masks, face shields, disposable pens and other items to ensure the health and safety of poll workers, voters and poll watchers.

Poll workers will be required to wear a face covering/mask during the course of their duties.

I am worried about contracting COVID-19 at the polling place. What should I do?

Registered voters who are concerned about the safety of their polling place should consider applying for a mail-in ballot. The deadline for applying for a mail-in ballot is Tuesday, October 27 (though it is recommended that voters apply as early as possible to allow time for processing and mail delivery).

A Vote-by-Mail Ballot can be requested online or downloaded and returned to the Delaware County Bureau of Elections.

I’m worried about COVID-19. Can someone else hand-deliver my mail-in/absentee ballot to a Ballot Drop Box or Voter Service Center on my behalf?

According to Pennsylvania state law, the third-party return of ballots is prohibited unless the person returning the ballot is rendering assistance to a disabled voter or an emergency absentee voter. Such assistance requires a declaration signed by the voter and the person rendering assistance.

Third Party Ballot Delivery for Mail Voting Form



THE INTEGRITY OF THE ELECTION

What protections are in place to prevent a person from voting by mail-in or absentee ballot and then voting at the polls?

When a person has applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot—regardless of whether the mail-in or absentee ballot is returned—their individual voter record notes that a mail-in or absentee ballot was requested. If that person goes to their polling place, that request will be clearly noted next to their name in the poll book.

Before the voter would be able to cast an in-person vote, they would need to return the ballot, including the envelope, and have it spoiled by the poll workers. Without both the ballot and the enveloped, the voter will be required to vote a provisional ballot.

Note: Provisional ballots are not counted on election day. Instead, it is returned to the Bureau of Elections, and as part of the Return Board process, each provisional ballot is reviewed to ensure that the individual had not voted by mail-in ballot, absentee ballot, or in-person at the polling place. If it is determined that no other ballot had been cast by the voter, the provisional ballot will be opened and counted.

Can you clarify the qualifications and conditions that must be met for individuals to serve as a Poll Worker, and clarify what they are—and are not—permitted to do?

The same ID requirements in place for in-person voting apply to those casting a provisional ballot.

If a voter comes to the polling place and must vote by provisional ballot, what information/ID must the voter have to complete the ballot?

The PA Department of State released new guidance concerning poll watchers and authorized representatives at the pre-canvass and canvass of ballots. It clarifies the qualifications and conditions that must be met for individuals to serve these roles, and specifies what they are and are not permitted to do.

Importantly, the guidance reiterates that “poll watchers and authorized representatives have no legal right to observe or be present at county election offices, satellite offices or designated ballot return sites, except to vote their own ballot or to perform personal tasks expressly permitted by the Election Code.”

Read the Guidance Concerning Poll Watchers and Authorized Representatives, updated on October 6, 2020.

I would like more information about the Board of Elections. Can I attend a meeting?

Notifications of upcoming meetings of the Delaware County Board of Elections are posted on the Board of Elections page. Meetings are conducted to consider matters relating to elections and to address matters lawfully coming before the Board. The public is permitted to attend in person following COVID-19 protocol, such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and permitting only the number of persons in the room at a time, based on 20% of the room’s maximum capacity.



ACT 77

I was told that the State recently enacted something called Act 77. Can you explain what Act 77 is?

On October 31, 2019, Governor Wolf signed Act 77 of 2019 into law. Act 77 is a State election reform bill that made several notable changes to the Pennsylvania Election Code and allowed significant improvements to Pennsylvania’s elections. Act 77 allows more convenient and secure voting. Most voters can now vote by mail-in ballot, and voters are provided additional time to register to vote and to return their absentee or mail-in ballot. In addition, the Act provided $90 million in funding for new voting systems.

A quick summary of what has changed due to Act 77:

Elimination of “One Touch” straight party ticket voting

New deadline to register to vote is now 15 days before an election

New mail-in option allows voters to request a mail-in ballot online or by mail as late as 7 days before the election.

Absentee ballots will no longer be counted at local polling places on election day. They will be opened and canvassed centrally by the Election Board after the polls close.

Early in-person voting. Residents can vote at the County Bureau of Elections once the ballot is certified and up until 7 days prior to the election.

Satellite early in-person voting. Act 77 also permits counties to establish one or more satellite locations (referred to in Delaware County as Voter Service Centers) for residents to vote early.

Did the passage of Act 77 result in new voting equipment?

Yes. One of the most visible changes coming out of Act 77 will be a change in the types of voting systems used by counties in elections. Voting systems must now offer a paper backup system. The voting machines used in Delaware County for many years did not meet that requirement and had to be replaced to meet the State’s mandate.

The new Hart Verity 2.3.4 system, certified by the PA Department of State, is a paper ballot system that offers plain text which voters can read to verify their vote before casting their ballot.

Download an information brochure about Act 77 here: Act 77 Brochure.



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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.


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