How do I vote by absentee ballot?
Voting by absentee ballot is a two step process. First, one must apply for an absentee ballot. Forms for this purpose are available at the County Services Center, from the political parties, and from many campaigns. You may also click on the "Forms" section and print the page that comes up, and return it by mail.
It is not possible to apply online or over the phone. If you are in the military or live overseas, you may apply by FAX. However, you must send the original to us by mail before Election Day, or your ballot will not be counted. We need a signature to process an absentee ballot request.
Once you have completed and submitted the absentee ballot application, you will receive the absentee ballot package. In it are inner and outer envelopes, the ballot itself, and explanatory sheets on any ballot questions. Applications must be received in our office by the Tuesday before any election, and the ballots must be received by the Friday before the election.
OFFICE MAILING ADDRESS
Berks County Election Services
633 Court Street, 1st Floor
Reading, PA 19601
I voted by absentee ballot (or received a ballot but did not use it). May I vote in person?
Yes. In fact, the Election Code provides that unless you are 65 years of age or older, you must vote in person if possible. At the polling place, the Judge of Election will note on the appropriate form that you appeared to vote in person, and you will sign in and vote as if you had not requested and submitted an absentee ballot.
When the absentee ballots are counted at the Board of Elections office after the polls close, your unopened absentee ballot will be marked VOID and will not be counted. Should you encounter any difficulty at the polls on election day, urge the official to contact the Office of Election Services at 610-478-6490.
Note: Voters age 65 or older are permitted by law to submit an "alternative ballot" if their polling place is not handicapped accessible. These voters may also go to the polls to cast their ballots, if able.
When are absentee ballots to be opened?
Absentee ballots are opened after the polls close on election day (8:00 p.m.) and the Board of Elections has had the opportunity to set aside and mark VOID any absentee ballots submitted by voters who were ultimately able to vote at the polls on election day (e.g. your scheduled business trip to another town was canceled, so that you are in your precinct on election day and you vote at your local polling place).
When are they counted?
An unofficial count is made at the precinct and posted at the polling place. Since the rules for counting absentee ballots can be complicated, the official count is done in the Office of Election Services starting at 9:00AM on the Friday after the election. They are then added to the Election Night totals.