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Voting by drop box, mail

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has outlined the steps for Pennsylvanians to vote by mail.

“Mail-in or absentee voting offers eligible voters a secure, convenient, accessible and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, an especially safe option of voting in the privacy of their own homes. But it’s important that voters follow all the steps necessary so their mail-in ballot will be counted,” Boockvar said. “We want every voter’s voice to be heard - whether they vote by mail, early in person at their county election office or at the polls on Election Day.”

To vote by mail, remember these tips and requirements:

Anyone registered to vote is eligible to vote by mail.

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election was Oct. 19.

Anyone who plans to vote by mail must have already applied for a mail ballot, as that deadline was Oct. 27. Voters who applied for a mail-in ballot for the primary and asked to be added to the permanent annual mail ballot list do not need to reapply for a mail ballot for the general election.

Once the voter’s application for a mail ballot is verified, the county election office will mail a ballot.

As soon as the voter receives the ballot, the voter should:

Read the instructions carefully.

Fill out the ballot, being sure to follow instructions on how to mark selections.

Seal the ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope that says Official Ballot. Make sure not to make any stray marks on the envelope.

Seal the inner secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope, which the voter must sign.

Complete and sign the voter’s declaration on the outside of the outer return envelope.

If the ballot is not enclosed in both envelopes, it will not be counted.

If the voter does not sign the outer envelope, the ballot will not be counted.

The voter should then return the completed ballot to the county board of elections - the sooner the better.

Voters can mail their ballot. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. Nov. 3 and received by the county election office by 5 p.m. Nov. 6. The Department of State is providing prepaid postage on mail ballot-return envelopes.

Voters can also hand-deliver their ballot to the county election office or other officially designated sites.

Hand-delivered ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

As Election Day draws nearer, county officials are recommending voters use specially installed drop boxes.

Voters can find the drop boxes at the following locations:

• Northampton County Courthouse

669 Washington St, Easton

8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday

8 a.m.-noon Saturday

• Northampton County Human Services Building

2801 Emrick Blvd., Bethlehem

8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday

• Northampton County 911 Center

100 Gracedale Ave., Nazareth

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

• Bethlehem City Hall

10 E. Church St., Bethlehem

8 a.m.-4 p.m. MondayFriday

All locations will have drop boxes inside the building and will be available for use during normal municipal business hours. Each drop box location will be monitored via electronic surveillance and by the presence of a municipal poll worker.

Under Pennsylvania law, voters may only return their own ballots. The exceptions to this are for voters with a disability who have designated someone in writing to deliver their ballot or for voters who are hospitalized or need an emergency absentee ballot.

Voters who provided an email address on their mail-in ballot application can check the status of their ballot at votesPA.com.

If a voter submits a voted mail ballot, they cannot vote at the polls on Election Day.

If a voter applies for a mail ballot but does not return it, they may vote by provisional ballot at the polls on Election Day. The county board of elections will then verify they didn’t vote by mail before counting the provisional ballot.

Voters who apply for and receive a mail ballot and then decide they want to vote at the polls must bring their entire unvoted mail ballot packet with them to be voided, including both envelopes.

“Pennsylvanians now have more voting options - that are more secure, accessible and convenient - than ever before,” Boockvar said. “Whichever option you choose, the most important thing is that you vote and let your voice be heard.”

For more information on voting in Pennsylvania, visit the department’s voting website, votesPA.com.

PRESS PHOTO BY BILL LEINER JR. Northampton County voters have four drop box options for their mail-in ballots, one of which is located at Northampton County Courthouse, 669 Washington St, Easton.
PRESS PHOTO BY BILL LEINER JR. Voters who requested mail-in or absentee ballots can drop them in any mailbox, like this one in Bath Borough. However, county officials are encouraging the use of drop boxes as Election Day draws nearer.