What are the options for returning my mail-in or absentee ballot?
If you request a mail-in ballot for the 2021 Primary Election you have four main options for voting. They are:
- Put the mail-in ballot in a designated secure ballot drop box. Ballots must be returned to a drop box by 8pm on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
- Return the mail-in ballot directly to the Main Entrance of the Willowbank Building, 420 Holmes St, in Bellefonte. Ballots will be accepted for in-person return from:
- Monday, April 26 – Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Monday -Friday from 8:30 -5:00 pm
- Surrender your mail-in ballot and return envelope with barcode at your polling location on Election Day. You will surrender your mail-in ballot and return envelope with barcode to the poll workers and fill out a form that voids the mail-in ballot. Then you will be given a regular ballot that will be voted at your polling location.
- If you are unable to bring your mail-in ballot to your polling location on Election Day, you will be given a provisional ballot at your polling location when you come to vote. The provisional ballot will be verified in the days following the election. Here’s more information regarding provisional ballots: https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Voting-by-Provisional-Ballot.aspx.
How do I vote by mail?
Please visit Vote By Mail for more information.
I have requested my vote-by-mail ballot. When can I expect to receive it?
Ballots for the 2021 Primary Elections will begin to be mailed out on Monday April 26th. The turnaround time from approving a vote-by-mail ballot application to mailing out the ballot is 48 hours.
Can someone else return my completed vote-by-mail ballot?
Generally speaking, no. Only the voter can return their own vote-by-mail ballot.
Exceptions do exist for individuals with a physical disability or an emergency absentee voter. In these cases, a voter should complete a Designated Agent Form that can be used by someone else do the following:
- submit a completed paper ballot application to the Centre County Board of Elections
- pick up a ballot for the voter to complete
- deliver or mail the completed ballot to the Centre County Board of Elections.
Please call the Centre County Elections Office at (814) 355-6703 with any questions regarding the designation of agent form.
Will “naked” vote-by-mail ballots be counted?
On September 17, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that an absentee or mail-in ballot that is not enclosed in the secrecy envelope must be disqualified.
Can a vote-by-mail ballot be rejected for mismatching signatures?
On September 11, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of State released guidance regarding acceptance of mail-in and absentee ballots. From page 3 of the guidance, “[t]he Pennsylvania Election Code does not authorize the county board of elections to set aside returned absentee or mail-in ballots based solely on signature analysis by the county board of elections.”
Further, the Pennsylvania Election Code does not have a process for rejecting vote-by-mail ballots due to a mismatched signature. As long as there is any marking in the Voter’s Declaration signature box the Centre County Board of Elections will accept the ballot.
If the Board of Elections received a vote-by-mail ballot that has a missing signature on the Voter’s Declaration, the Board will send to the voter a letter alerting them of the error. The voter will need to call the Elections Office and schedule a time to come to the Elections Office to sign the Voter’s Declaration. The voter will be asked to show ID similar to that of what is asked for a first-time voter at a polling location. Any vote-by-mail ballot still lacking a signature at 8:00PM on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 will not be counted. The voter will receive a second letter notifying them their ballot was not counted due to lack of signature.
I have received my vote-by-mail ballot but want to vote in-person on Election Day at my polling location. Can I still vote in-person on Election Day?
Yes. You should save your vote-by-mail ballot and return/voter declaration envelope and bring it to your polling location on Election Day.
When you arrive at the check-in table at your polling location you can surrender your mail-in ballot and return/voter declaration envelope to a poll worker. The poll worker will then give you a form that you fill out that will void your mail-in ballot. Then you will sign into the poll book and be given a regular ballot that you can vote at your polling location and place into the ballot scanner.
What happens if someone votes by mail and then tries to vote on Election Day at their polling location?
The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2021 Primary Election is 5PM on Tuesday, May 11. Once all the applications for vote-by-mail ballots are processed, the poll books are printed for Election Day. When voting in-person on Election Day there is an area in the poll book for each voter’s signature. For voters that request a vote-by-mail ballot there will not be a signature line. Instead there will be a message that says they are not eligible to cast a regular ballot due to requesting or returning a vote-by-mail ballot. If the voter believes this is an error they can still cast a provisional ballot.
Provisional ballots are not opened and counted until all regular ballots are counted. Each provisional ballot is cross-referenced with the Election Day poll books and the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) system. Anyone who casts a provisional ballot on Election Day received a barcode with a number unique to their ballot, a phone number, and a website to track if their vote was completely counted, partially counted, or not counted. (More information on provisional ballots is available here.)
If someone casts a provisional ballot at their polling location on Election Day and has also returned a vote-by-mail ballot their provisional ballot will not count. If someone casts a provisional ballot at their polling location on Election Day and has not returned their vote-by-mail ballot their provisional ballot will count.
How can I track that status of my vote-by-mail ballot?
Centre County voters can see the status of their mail-in or absentee ballot online. Track your ballot’s progress from when your county receives your application, to when they receive your voted ballot. Visit votesPA.com/MailBallotStatus and enter your information.
Are postmarks acceptable for returning my vote-by-mail ballot?
The Centre County Board of Elections encourages voters to return their own voted mail-in ballots to the Centre County Elections Office or a secure ballot drop box by Election Day by 8:00 p.m.
How do I remove myself from the permanent absentee ballot or mail-in ballot list?
Voters who signed up to receive an absentee ballot or a mail-in ballot have the option of requesting to receive an application to renew their absentee or mail-in ballot request each year. This application will be mailed to voters prior to each Primary Election. After your annual application is approved, you will automatically receive ballots for all elections occurring the remainder of the year. You do not need to submit an application for each election. The county will send you an annual renewal form so you can continue receiving ballots each year.
Voters registered in Centre County who no longer wish to receive an application for absentee or mail-in ballots each year can request to cancel their permanent absentee ballot or mail-in ballot status by completing this form and mailing it to:
Centre County Elections & Voter Registration
420 Holmes St
Bellefonte, PA 16823