Voting by Mail? Make Sure You Do it Right and Do it Early!
If you are one of the tens of thousands of new vote-by-mail electors in Monroe County, you want to make sure you do it right, and do it early. Mail-in ballots should be hitting mailboxes in the county right now.
Anyone registered to vote is eligible to vote by mail. The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 19. Pennsylvanians can register to vote or check their registration status at votesPA.com. You can also track the status of your mail ballot at votesPA.com.
The deadline to apply for a mail ballot is 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27, but voters are urged to apply now, so they have plenty of time to return their ballot before the election.
Once your application for a mail ballot is verified, the county election office will mail it to you. This year, the return envelop with be postage prepaid.
As soon as you get the ballot, read the instructions carefully -- the primary reason for rejected ballots is the failure to follow the instructions.
Fill out your ballot using only black or blue ink. Be careful to follow instructions on how to mark your choices.
Then seal the ballot in the white inner secrecy envelope that says, “official ballot.” Make sure you do not make any marks on the secrecy envelope.
Then put the secrecy envelope in the pre-addressed outer return envelope. Seal and then complete and sign the voter’s declaration on the outside of the outer return envelope. Make sure you sign it using the same name and signature that appears on your voter registration form.
If the ballot is not enclosed in both envelopes, it will not be counted.
If you do not sign the outer envelope, the ballot will not be counted.
If your signature does not match the one on your voter registration application, it will not be counted.
Return your voted ballot to the Monroe County Board of Elections. If you are going to mail it back, the Post Office suggests that you do so by October 27. You can also drop it off at several locations around the county (see below).
Mailed ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 and received by the county election office by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6. Hand-delivered ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on election day.
Under Pennsylvania law, voters may only return their own ballots. The only 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 provide an email address on their mail ballot application can check the status of their mail ballot at votesPA.com.
If a voter submits a voted mail ballot, they cannot vote at the polls on election day.
If you applied for an absentee or mail ballot, but want to vote in person, do not return the ballot. You can vote by provisional ballot at the polls on election day. If you bring your entire unvoted mail ballot packet to the polls, including both envelopes, you will not need to use a provisional ballot.
You can also vote early in-person by going in person to the county election office, request a ballot, fill it out and return it on the spot – all in one visit.
In person voting, at the polls or at the county election office, will require you to wear a mask and social distance. The Department of State is supplying counties with masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, floor marking tape and other supplies for polling places so Pennsylvanians can safely exercise their right to vote during this COVID-19 emergency.
Vote-by-Mail and Absentee Ballots can be dropped off at the Monroe County Elections and Voter Registration Office in the Monroe County Administrative Building, One Quaker Plaza, Room 105, Stroudsburg, PA 18360, between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, weekdays.
For the first time, the ballots for the November 3 General Election can also be deposited at several places around the county during the normal hours of operation of the locations. The remote ballot boxes are located at:
Pocono Mountain Public Library, 5500 Municipal Drive, Tobyhanna;
Clymer Library, 115 Firehouse Lane, Pocono Pines;
Western Pocono Public Library, 131 Pilgrim Way, Broadheadsville;
Eastern Monroe Public Library, 1002 N 9th Street, Stroudsburg; and, Smithfield Township Municipal Bldg, 1155 Red Fox Road
Pennsylvanians now have more voting options – that are more secure, accessible and convenient – than ever before. Whichever option you choose, the most important thing is that you vote and let your voice be heard.
For more information, to register to vote, or apply for a mail ballot, go to votespa.com.