Mail ballots have been used in Pennsylvania since the Civil War. They became available to any registered voter in 2019 (Act 70). They are in fact the traditional “paper ballots” upon which we have relied for more than two hundred years. They provide a paper trail of the votes cast, and are easily audited. They are easy to use and you can complete them weeks before election day. They can confidently be returned by mail or placed in a mail ballot dropbox. By law, you may deliver only your own ballot to a dropbox, the post office or a neighborhood mail box.
In Pennsylvania, mail ballots are sent only to those registered voters who request them. Since no one can be registered in more than one jurisdiction, this ensures that only eligible voters receive a mail ballot. In Pennsylvania, registered voters who are deceased are removed from the voter roles and would not receive a mail ballot. The mail ballot of someone who dies before election day is not counted.
Mail ballots are confidential. The completed ballot is placed by the voter in its secrecy envelope which is then placed in an outer mailing envelope. Upon receipt by county election services, the voter information on the outer envelope is verified and only verified ballots are counted. Mail ballots are trackable by the voter: you can find out online if your ballot has been sent, returned and counted.
The counting of verified mail ballots involves multiple trained and approved observers from political parties and candidates to ensure that the process is secure.
Eight states conduct all their elections by mail (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington). Two states allow their counties to decide to conduct elections by mail (Nebraska and North Dakota). More than a dozen other states allow some of their elections to be conducted by mail.
Voter fraud is of course a crime, but continues to be vanishingly infrequent. No election fraud has ever come close to changing the final results.