Pennsylvania issues guidance about new mail-in ballots

Pennsylvania Elections

The deadline for elections offices to receive the completed ballots is when polls close, at 8 p.m. on election days

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

An election worker separates ballots from security envelopes at the King County Elections office Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Renton, Wash. Election workers in King County collected more than 100,000 ballots from drop boxes a day earlier, on Election Day, and over 50,000 came in the mail Wednesday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s elections agency provided guidance Friday to county officials about the state’s new law allowing people to vote early by mail for any reason.

The Department of State issued a six-page document that describes the new rules and offers suggestions about how to administer them.

The new law, signed Oct. 31, takes effect starting with this year’s April 28 primary. Elections offices must start processing mail-in ballot applications at least 50 days before election day.

Voters can apply at county elections offices for mail-in ballots and may choose to cast their ballots at that time. They may also take the ballots with them and mail them in after making their choices.

Pennsylvania had previously restricted mail-in ballots to absentee voters who qualified because they met a set of reasons, including job-related travel, religious observance, illness and physical disability.

The deadline for elections offices to receive the completed ballots is when polls close, at 8 p.m. on election days.

Registered voters may ask to be placed on a permanent mail-in voting list file. The law also shortened the deadline for voters to register, making it 15 days before an election.

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