Voting By Mail – Step by Step Instructions


At this point Chester County and many other counties throughout Pennsylvania have already mailed their mail-in ballots for those voters who have requested them.  You might have requested a mail-in ballot through the internet or maybe during the last voting cycle in the Pennsylvania Primary Election when you checked off the box stating you wanted to continue to receive mail-in ballots.  There is a good chance you have already received it.  However, at any time if you want to check the status of your ballot for the upcoming election you can go to   One more point, if you have not yet requested a mail-in ballot but want to do so, you should act quickly.  You want to leave enough time to have received the ballot from Voter Services and gotten it back there properly signed no later than November 3.  This is no time for delay.

The traditional way of voting at the polls on election day is still available but be prepared to wait in line for some time.

So, assuming you have your mail-in ballot, what now?  Here are Step by Step Instructions you can follow to assist.

  • Actions to take now. 
    • First, open the envelope you received.  Take out the ballot and the two enclosed envelopes.  One will be the return envelope to Voter Services already addressed (the return envelope).  In Chester County postage is already taken care of.  Check this, though, if you are a voter in another County.  You will be writing on the return envelope so put it aside for the moment.
    • The other enclosed envelope, (the privacy envelope), states “Official Election Ballot” and is going to contain your ballot. DO NOT WRITE OR PUT ANY MARKINGS ON THE PRIVACY ENVELOPE.  This is important.  Some mistakes can invalidate the ballot so you need to pay attention.
    • Review the ballot and blacken the circles beside your choices in black ink.
    • NOTE:  Pennsylvania eliminated straight party voting so you need to vote for each position.  You cannot say simply straight Democratic or straight Republican.
    • Place your voted ballot inside the envelope marked Official Election Ballot (the privacy envelope).  Seal the envelope.
    • Place the privacy envelope inside the larger second envelope which is preaddressed to Voter Services (the return envelope).  You are not yet done.
    • On the return envelope sign and print your name exactly how it appears on the ballot and date it.  If you forgot how your name appears on the ballot, this is typed on the return envelope itself.  Seal the outer envelope.

About the Author Janet Colliton

Esquire, Colliton Law Associates, P.C. Janet Colliton has practiced law for over 38 years, 37 of them in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her practice, Colliton Law Associates, PC, is limited to elder law, Medicaid, including advice, applications and appeals, and other benefits planning including Veterans benefits, life care and special needs planning, guardianships, retirement, and estate planning and administration.

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