Pennsylvania Statutes Title 25 P.S. Elections & Electoral Districts § 3146.2. Applications for official absentee ballots

<Section 14 of Act 2019, Oct. 31, P.L. 552, No. 77 , imd. effective, provides that this Act shall apply to elections held on or after April 28, 2020.>
<Section 17 of Act 2020, March 27, P.L. ___, No. 12 , imd. effective, provides that the amendment of 25 P.S. § 3146.2(i)(1) by that Act shall apply to elections occurring on or after November 2, 2020.>

(a) Any qualified elector defined in preceding section 1301, subsections (a) to (h),  1 inclusive, may apply at any time before any primary or election for any official absentee ballot in person, on any form supplied by the Federal Government, or on any official county board of election form addressed to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the county board of election of the county in which his voting residence is located.

(b) An application for a qualified elector under subsection (a) shall contain the following information:  Home residence at the time of entrance into actual military service or Federal employment, length of time a citizen, length of residence in Pennsylvania, date of birth, length of time a resident of voting district, voting district if known, party choice in case of primary, name and, for a military elector, his stateside military address, FPO or APO number and serial number.  Any elector other than a military elector shall in addition specify the nature of his employment, the address to which ballot is to be sent, relationship where necessary, and such other information as may be determined and prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.  When such application is received by the Secretary of the Commonwealth it shall be forwarded to the proper county board of election.

(b.1) An application for a qualified elector other than under subsection (a) shall contain the following information:  Date of birth, length of time a resident of voting district, voting district if known, party choice in case of primary and name.  The elector shall in addition specify the nature of his or her employment, the address to which ballot is to be sent, relationship where necessary, and other information as may be determined and prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.  When the application is received by the Secretary of the Commonwealth it shall be forwarded to the proper county board of election.

(c) A qualified absentee military or overseas elector, as defined by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act ( Public Law 99-410, 100 Stat. 924 ), may submit his application for an official absentee ballot by electronic transmission method.  The electronic transmission method shall not be acceptable for the official absentee ballot.  As used in this subsection, “electronic transmission method” means any technology that can transmit a document or an image of a document via electronic or electromechanical means, including, but not limited to, facsimile method.  An elector entitled to submit an application for an official absentee ballot under a method authorized under 25 Pa.C.S. Ch. 35 (relating to uniform military and overseas voters) may submit an application using a method authorized under 25 Pa.C.S. Ch. 35, in addition to the methods authorized in this article.

(d) The application of any qualified elector, as defined in preceding section 1301, subsections (a) to (h), inclusive, for an official absentee ballot in any primary or election shall be signed by the applicant, except that for electors under section 1301(a), an adult member of the applicant's immediate family may sign the application on the elector's behalf.

(e) Any qualified bedridden or hospitalized veteran absent from the municipality of his residence and unable to attend his polling place because of such illness or physical disability, regardless of whether he is registered or enrolled, may apply at any time before any primary or election for an official absentee ballot on any official county board of election form addressed to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the county board of elections of the county in which his voting residence is located.

The application shall contain the following information:  Residence at the time of becoming bedridden or hospitalized, length of time a citizen, length of residence in Pennsylvania, date of birth, length of time a resident in voting district, voting district if known, party choice in case of primary, name and address of present residence or hospital at which hospitalized.  When such application is received by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, it shall be forwarded to the proper county board of elections.

The application for an official absentee ballot for any primary or election shall be made on information supplied over the signature of the bedridden or hospitalized veteran as required in the preceding subsection.  Any qualified registered elector, including a spouse or dependent referred to in subsection (l) of section 1301, who expects to be or is absent from the municipality of his residence because his duties, occupation or business require him to be elsewhere on the day of any primary or election and any qualified registered elector who is unable to attend his polling place on the day of any primary or election because of illness or physical disability and any qualified registered bedridden or hospitalized veteran in the county of residence, or in the case of a county employe who cannot vote due to duties on election day relating to the conduct of the election, or in the case of a person who will not attend a polling place because of the observance of a religious holiday, may apply to the county board of elections of the county in which his voting residence is located for an Official Absentee Ballot.  Such application shall be made upon an official application form supplied by the county board of elections.  Such official application form shall be determined and prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

(1) The application of any qualified registered elector, including spouse or dependent referred to in subsection (l) of section 1301, who expects to be or is absent from the municipality of his residence because his duties, occupation or business require him to be elsewhere on the day of any primary or election, or in the case of a county employe who cannot vote due to duties on election day relating to the conduct of the election, or in the case of a person who will not attend a polling place because of the observance of a religious holiday, shall be signed by the applicant and shall include the surname and given name or names of the applicant, proof of identification, his occupation, date of birth, length of time a resident in voting district, voting district if known, place of residence, post office address to which ballot is to be mailed, the reason for his absence, and such other information as shall make clear to the county board of elections the applicant's right to an official absentee ballot.

(2) The application of any qualified registered elector who is unable to attend his polling place on the day of any primary or election because of illness or physical disability and the application of any qualified registered bedridden or hospitalized veteran in the county of residence shall be signed by the applicant and shall include surname and given name or names of the applicant, proof of identification, his occupation, date of birth, residence at the time of becoming bedridden or hospitalized, length of time a resident in voting district, voting district if known, place of residence, post office address to which ballot is to be mailed, and such other information as shall make clear to the county board of elections the applicant's right to an official ballot.  In addition, the application of such electors shall include a declaration stating the nature of their disability or illness, and the name, office address and office telephone number of their attending physician:  Provided, however, That in the event any elector entitled to an absentee ballot under this subsection be unable to sign his application because of illness or physical disability, he shall be excused from signing upon making a statement which shall be witnessed by one adult person in substantially the following form:  I hereby state that I am unable to sign my application for an absentee ballot without assistance because I am unable to write by reason of my illness or physical disability.  I have made or have received assistance in making my mark in lieu of my signature.

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(Date)

(Mark)

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(Complete Address of Witness)

(Signature of Witness)

(e.1) Any qualified registered elector who is unable because of illness or physical disability to attend his polling place on the day of any primary or election or operate a voting machine and state distinctly and audibly that he is unable to do so as required by section 1218  2 of this act may at any time request, with the certification by his attending physician that he is permanently disabled and physically unable to attend the polls or operate a voting machine and make the distinct and audible statement required by section 1218 appended to the application hereinbefore required, to be placed on a permanently disabled absentee ballot list file.  An absentee ballot application shall be mailed to every such person otherwise eligible to receive one, by the first Monday in February each year, or within forty-eight hours of receipt of the request, whichever is later, so long as he does not lose his voting rights by failure to vote as otherwise required by this act.  Such person shall not be required to file a physician's certificate of disability with each application as required in subsection (e) of this section.  Should any such person lose his disability he shall inform the county board of elections of the county of his residence.  An absentee ballot application mailed to an elector under this section, which is completed and timely returned by the elector, shall serve as an application for any and all primary, general or special elections to be held in the remainder of that calendar year and for all special elections to be held before the third Monday in February of the succeeding year.  The transfer of a qualified registered elector on a permanently disabled absentee ballot list from one county to another county shall only be permitted upon the request of the qualified registered elector.

(e.2) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this act any qualified elector who expects to be or is absent from the municipality of his residence because his duties, occupation or business require him to be elsewhere on the day of any election or a county employe who cannot vote due to duties on election day relating to the conduct of the election or a person who will not attend a polling place because of the observance of a religious holiday may make an application for an absentee ballot by mail by sending a letter to the county board of elections in the county in which his voting residence is located.  The letter shall be signed by the applicant and contain his name, place of residence and proof of identification.

(f) The county chairman of each political party or the head of each political body shall designate one representative from his respective political party or body for each public institution.  The representatives so appointed shall, at the same time on a date fixed by the county board of election visit every public institution situate in the county for the purpose of obtaining the names and addresses of public institution residents who desire to receive applications for absentee ballots and to act as an election board as provided in subsection (g) of this section.  The list of names and addresses thus obtained shall then be submitted by said representatives to the board which shall furnish applications individually to those appearing in the written request.  If the chairman or head of a political party or body fails to appoint a representative within fifteen days from written notice from the county board of election, the county board of election shall appoint a representative from the political party or body.

(g) The county board of election shall appoint teams of three members for each public institution that shall go to the public institutions and hold the election on the first Friday prior to election day.  Each member of the board shall appoint one member on every team.  After the votes are cast, the teams shall collect the ballots and return them to the county board of election where they shall be placed unopened in a secure, safe and sealed container in the custody of the board until they shall be distributed to the respective absentee voters' election district as provided in section 1308 of this act   3 where they shall be counted with the other absentee ballots, if any.

(h) The county board of election shall number, in chronological order, the applications for an official absentee ballot, which number shall likewise appear on the official absentee ballot for the qualified elector.  The numbers shall appear legibly and in a conspicuous place but before the ballots are distributed the number on the ballot shall be torn off by the county board of election.  This number information shall be appropriately inserted and become a part of the Registered Absentee Voters File and the Military, Veterans and Emergency Civilian Absentee Voters File provided in section 1302.3 of this act.  4

(i)(1) Application for official absentee ballots shall be on physical and electronic forms prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.  The application shall state that an elector who applies for an absentee ballot pursuant to section 1301 shall not be eligible to vote at a polling place on election day unless the elector brings the elector's absentee ballot to the elector's polling place, remits the ballot and the envelope containing the declaration of the elector to the judge of elections to be spoiled and signs a statement subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) to the same effect.  Such physical application forms shall be made freely available to the public at county board of elections, municipal buildings and at such other locations designated by the secretary.  Such electronic application forms shall be made freely available to the public through publicly accessible means.  No written application or personal request shall be necessary to receive or access the application forms.  Copies and records of all completed physical and electronic applications for official absentee ballots shall be retained by the county board of elections.

(2) Nothing in this act shall prohibit a private organization or individual from printing blank voter applications for absentee ballots or shall prohibit the use of such applications by another individual, provided the form, content and paper quality have been approved by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

(j) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section requiring proof of identification, a qualified absentee elector shall not be required to provide proof of identification if the elector is entitled to vote by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act ( Public Law 99-410, 100 Stat. 924 )  5 or by an alternative ballot under the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act ( Public Law 98-435, 98 Stat. 1678 ). 6

(k) The Secretary of the Commonwealth may develop an electronic system through which all qualified electors may apply for an absentee ballot and request permanent absentee voter status under subsection (e.1), provided the system is able to capture a digitized or electronic signature of the applicant.  A county board of elections shall treat any application or request received through the electronic system as if the application or request had been submitted on a paper form or any other format used by the county.

1 25 P.S. § 3146.1(a) to (h).
2 25 P.S. § 3058.
3 25 P.S. § 3146.8.
4 25 P.S. § 3146.2c.
5 52 U.S.C.A. § 20301 et seq.
6 52 U.S.C.A. § 20101 et seq.

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