Pennsylvania Issues Guidance About New Mail-in Ballots

The new law, signed Oct. 31, takes effect starting with this year's April 28 primary

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 Pennsylvania's elections agency provided guidance Friday to county officials about the state's new law allowing people to vote early by mail for any reason.

The Department of State issued a six-page document that describes the new rules and offers suggestions about how to administer them.

The new law, signed Oct. 31, takes effect starting with this year's April 28 primary. Elections offices must start processing mail-in ballot applications at least 50 days before election day. Ballots will be mailed out once they are finalized.

Voters can apply at county elections offices for mail-in ballots and may choose to cast their ballots at that time. They may also take the ballots with them and mail them in after making their choices.

Pennsylvania had previously restricted mail-in ballots to absentee voters who qualified because they met a set of reasons, including job-related travel, religious observance, illness and physical disability. Mail-in ballots can be used by people who don't qualify for absentee ballots.

The deadline for elections offices to receive the completed ballots is when polls close, at 8 p.m. on election days.

Registered voters may ask to be placed on a permanent mail-in voting list file. The law also shortened the deadline for voters to register, making it 15 days before an election.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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