Starting next Monday, September 16, eligible Pennsylvanians will be able to apply online for absentee ballots. The actual ballots will still be mailed to voters, who will still have to mail them back by the deadline date.

Online applications will be available at

Previously, voters wanting to obtain an absentee ballot could only apply in person or mail a paper application to their county’s election office. Those options are still available.

Voters casting absentee ballots have to meet strict deadlines for their votes to be counted. Governor Wolf, who announced the change, hopes that getting the application into voters’ hands a little quicker will result in fewer absentee ballots being disqualified for lateness.

Even so, Lebanon County Voter Registration director Michael L. Anderson warns against last minute applications. “We always stress to voters to start the process early. Waiting until the deadlines could mean your ballot is not counted if not received in time.”

Initially, a Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID number will be needed to apply online. That requirement may be dropped for later elections, with the release noting that an update planned for 2020 will allow use by applicants who do not have a PennDOT number.

According to the governor’s announcement, online applications for 2019 will only be available for voters physically residing in Pennsylvania. Plans are to expand them to military and overseas Pennsylvanians in 2020.

For now, military and overseas citizens can make an online request for an absentee ballot from the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Absentee ballots are open to individuals who meet one of the following criteria:

  • College students
  • People whose work or vacation take them away from the municipality where they live
  • Those with a physical disability or illness that prevents them from going to the polling place
  • Members of the military
  • People who have a conflict due to the celebration of a religious holiday

Absentee ballot deadlines for the upcoming general election on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 are:

  • Last day to request an absentee ballot (one week before the election): Tuesday, October 29, 2019.
  • Deadline for completed absentee ballots to be received at county election office (Friday before the election): 5:00 pm on Friday, November 1, 2019.

Need More Information? The Lebanon County Bureau of Elections / Voter Registration Office is located in Room 209 of the Lebanon Municipal Building. Telephone 717-228-4428.

Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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