More than 970K Pa. voters applied to vote by mail ahead of Nov. 2 election

By: - November 2, 2021 9:07 am

When polls opened this morning, thousands of Pennsylvania voters already cast their ballot by mail.

The Department of State, which has election oversight, reported more than 974,000 applications for mail-in ballots a week before the 2021 general election, the last day to request one. State data show that 634,000 mail-in ballots were returned to their county elections office before Nov. 2.

Allegheny County, a traditionally Democratic area, saw 139,447 mail-in ballot applications. Philadelphia County, another Democratic stronghold, followed with 107,452 requests.

Seventy percent of mail-in ballot requests, 683,773, came from registered Democrats. A total of 208,664 Republicans applied to vote by mail. The remaining number of applications, 81,982, came from remaining party affiliations, including Green, Libertarian, and independent registrants.


The bulk of statewide mail-in applications came from voters born in 1952, according to state data.

As of 4 p.m. on Monday, York County, which has 305,412 registered voters, said 70.8 percent of mail-in ballots — out of 30,061 sent — had been returned before Election Day.

County elections offices must receive ballots by 8 p.m. for them to count toward overall returns. A postmark is not enough.

Voters who have not voted by mail or absentee ballot can vote in person at their polling place on Election Day. If someone applied to vote by mail and changed their mind, they can still vote in person; however, they must bring their entire mail ballot packet, including the unvoted mail-in ballot and the outer return envelope with the voter’s declaration. If a voter no longer has their mail-in ballot and envelope, they can vote by provisional ballot at their polling place on Election Day.

Precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters must be in line by 8 p.m. to cast their ballots. If it’s their first time voting at their designated polling place, voters must provide identification.

Before heading to the polls or returning a mail-in or absentee ballot, make sure to double-check the location online.

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid issued a reminder on Monday, noting that Pennsylvania counties are not allowed to start counting mail-in ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day — meaning that counting won’t be complete until the days after the election.

For real-time results, check the Department of State’s election returns website. Updates will begin once polls close at 8 p.m.

“The public, candidates, and the media can find the most complete picture of how Pennsylvanians voted on our election returns site,” Degraffenreid said. “We collaborate with all 67 county election offices to consolidate results as soon as they are available.”

For more information on voting and elections in Pennsylvania, visit or call the toll-free hotline at 877-868-3772. 

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