Stay calm and vote early – Here’s how (Part 2)

by Barbara Thomson,
Posted 10/7/20

Last week, we – the 9th Ward Democratic Committee –  wrote about registering to vote. This week we focus on whether you want to vote early or wait until November 3rd to cast your …

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Stay calm and vote early – Here’s how (Part 2)

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Last week, we – the 9th Ward Democratic Committee –  wrote about registering to vote. This week we focus on whether you want to vote early or wait until November 3rd to cast your ballot. Our recommendation is the sooner you vote, the better. You have three options for voting, but first make sure you are registered to vote by October 19th – the official deadline.

To register, go to pavoterservices.pa.gov/ or call 1-877-VOTESPA or the Philadelphia County Board of Elections at 215-686-1590. You may register and vote on the same day up until October 19th at the Philadelphia Board of Elections Office or one of its Satellite Offices (see more about Satellite Offices below).

This week: Decide how you want to vote. You have three choices and two of them allow you to vote early.

  1. Mail-In Ballot – Early voting
  2. Satellite Office – Early voting
  3. In-person Polling Place

As Philadelphians, we’ve never had so many options and many of us are speculating about the safest and most convenient way. We recommend that the earlier you vote, the better. You can request a ballot from your home by mail or online, at the Elections Board Office at City Hall, and Satellite Offices. And you may return your ballot by mail, at the Elections Board Office, Satellite Offices, or drop-off boxes throughout the City. (Note: You can only vote within your county.) This is in addition to traditional voting in-person at your local polling place on Election Day. Right now, you need to focus on which option best fits your needs and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Mail-In Ballot – Early Voting

You can request your Mail-in Ballot online or by mail and it will arrive at your home as a paper ballot. This is also known as “applying” for your Mail-In ballot. It may feel complicated because it is new, but it is quite easy. And your ballot may already be on its way to you. You should receive it by October 6th.

To request a Mail-In Ballot go to:

votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx

Have you already requested a Mail-In Ballot or don’t remember if you did? You can check. Go to this website: pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/BallotTracking.aspx

If your status is “Pending,” you have requested a Mail-In Ballot. It will be coming in the mail by October 6th. If the status is blank, you can request one. Remember, you must request your Mail-In Ballot by October 27th at 5pm. We recommend you do this as soon as possible so that there is enough time for the Board of Elections to mail it to you before November 3rd.

If you miss the Oct. 27th deadline to request a Mail-In Ballot, you have to vote in-person on Election Day.

I received my ballot yesterday, September 30th. It included clear instructions and two envelopes. You can sit with the ballot for a while, study it, think about it, research any questions, and fill it in (with a black or blue pen) at your pace. You can then drop it off in the mail, at a post office, a drop-box, the Philadelphia County Board of Elections Office at City Hall Room 142, or any of the Satellite Offices.  

You have until Election Day, November 3rd at 8 pm to postmark or drop off your ballot at the Board of Elections or a Satellite Office. PA will count all votes postmarked by November 3rd and received by November 6th. But don’t wait, do it asap.

Elections Board at City Hall or Satellite Office – Early Voting

Philadelphians can vote at the Philadelphia County Board of Election or any Satellite Office. The Satellite Offices are brand new to Philadelphia. At these offices, you may register to vote (until October 19th), request a paper ballot in person (even if you requested a Mail-In Ballot already), fill it out on the spot (or take it with you), and turn it in through October 27th. After the 27th, it will be a drop-box location for mail-in ballots.

The closest Satellite to Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy is Roxborough High School 6498 Ridge Avenue. AB Day will be opening soon in Germantown. Just a reminder, you may use ANY satellite office in your county.

We tried out the Satellite Office at Roxborough High School 6498 Ridge Avenue today and it was a breeze. The ballot drop-off site was just inside the main entrance. We dropped our ballots in the canvas "box," took "I Voted Today" stickers, and left. There was no wait while we were there. Afterwards, we sat outside on the bench and cheered for others as they exited.

For more information on the Satellite Offices go to:

philadelphiavotes.com/en/home/item/1845-open_satellite_election_offices_on_a_rolling_basis

In-Person

In-Person voting means that you intend to go to your polling place and vote in-person on November 3rd between 7am and 8pm. Most in-person voters in our area will go back to where they voted in 2019. There was a change for the 2020 Primary because of the pandemic; but for most, your former polling place is back in operation for the 2020 General Election on November 3rd. If you are not sure of your polling place go to: pavoterservices.pa.gov/pages/voterregistrationstatus.aspx

Where there are still locations to be determined (TBD), your official polling place location will be identified by October 14th – twenty days before the General Election.

If you signed up for a Mail-In Ballot and instead would prefer to vote in person at your local polling place, you have that option. Bring your Mail-In Ballot INCLUDING the envelopes to your polling place on Election Day November 3rd. Your ballot will be properly voided and you may vote via the machine. However, we don’t recommend that option because the Elections Board is expecting longer wait times than usual because of COVID protocols and a large turn-out of voters. More on this next week.

If you did not receive your Mail-In Ballot and/or you do not bring it with you to the polling place, you still have the option to vote in-person at your polling place. You may fill out a Provisional Ballot. A Provisional Ballot is a paper ballot that is cast and counted as part of the Certified Election Results, and therefore has the same impact as votes cast on the voting machines. You’ll receive a Provisional Ballot Number that you can track so you can make sure it’s counted.

Week of October 12: Make sure you submit your paper ballot by mail, at a satellite office, or a drop-box. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3, 2020 – but waiting until then could be risky.

Week of October 17: Relax, you’re all done if you submitted your ballot. If you haven’t sent in your ballot, submit it by mail, at a satellite office or drop box.

November 3: If you haven’t voted, already, go to your Polling Place between 7am and 8pm. Or if you have a paper ballot, bring your completed ballot in its two envelopes to the Elections Board or Satellite Office to cast your vote.

For those of you who are ready to vote now, the 9th Ward Democratic Committee has endorsed (Spoiler Alert) all the Democrats and encourages you to vote YES on all the ballot questions. 

Barbara Thomson, is a Democratic committeeperson, 9th Ward, Division 5

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