The Pitt News

Absentee ballot registration to close Nov. 1

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Elaina Zachos | Visual Editor

Elaina Zachos | Visual Editor

Elaina Zachos | Visual Editor

By Alexa Bakalarski / Assistant News Editor

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With about one week left before the 2016 presidential election, the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is tomorrow.

In Pennsylvania, voters must apply for an absentee ballot by Nov. 1, and the County Election Office of a voter’s home county must receive the application by Nov. 4. To send in an absentee ballot application, a person must be registered to vote.

Voters fill out and mail in an absentee ballot when they are not able to make it to their typical polling location on election day, such as when college students live away from home. The requirements for applying for absentee ballots –– as well as the deadlines for applications and ballots –– vary by state.

According to Vote.org, 19 states, including Pennsylvania, accept absentee ballot applications under certain conditions. The D.C. area and 28 states do not have any conditions for applying for an absentee ballot, known as no-excuse absentee voting, so anyone that is registered to vote in that state can receive an absentee ballot. In Colorado, Oregon and Washington, all registered voters receive mail ballots. Voters can apply for an absentee ballot if they need their ballot mailed to somewhere other than their typical address.

In Pennsylvania, criteria for an absentee ballot include being in the U.S. military, observing a religious holiday and being unable to vote in their municipality because of work or other reasons — sabbatical leaves and/or vacations. This means Pitt students who are from Pennsylvania can vote via absentee ballot. Pennsylvania requires absentee voters to include their Pennsylvania drivers license number and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

In the case of a sudden illness or another emergency, Pennsylvania voters can apply for an emergency absentee ballot application, which must be submitted to the County Board of Elections by 5 p.m. the Friday before the election. If an emergency occurs after the Friday 5 p.m. deadline, Pennsylvania voters can register for an emergency absentee ballot which has to be submitted to their county’s Court of Common Pleas by 8 p.m. on the election day.

According to the Pew Research Center, almost 36 percent of voters in the 2012 election cast their ballots in some form other than going to a traditional polling place on election day, including absentee ballots or early voting. More than 4 million voters already cast votes via absentee ballots, early voting or mail-in ballots by Oct. 21, for the 2016 election.

Vote.org provides online forms by state to register for absentee ballots.

According to Pitt’s 2016 Factbook, New Jersey, New York and Ohio are the top three states Pitt students come from beside Pennsylvania.

In New Jersey, any voter registered in that state can apply for an absentee ballot. Applications for absentee ballots must be submitted seven days before the election by mail. Completed ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on election day.

In New York, a person may vote via an absentee ballot if they are “unavoidably absent” from their county on election day, unable to go to a polling site because of an illness or physical disability, if they are a patient at a Veterans’ Administration Hospital or if they are detained in jail awaiting action from a Grand Jury or if they are confined in prison for an offense besides a felony. Absentee ballot applications must be postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service no later than seven days before the election. Voted ballots must be postmarked by the USPS by the day before the election.  

In Ohio, any voter registered in that state can apply for an absentee ballot. Applications for absentee ballots must be received by noon three days before the election. Voted ballots must be postmarked the day before the election.

On Nov. 8, polling areas will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the general election. Pitt’s Community and Governmental Relations has a list of residence hall polling locations.

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Absentee ballot registration to close Nov. 1