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November 3, 2020Advocacy Matters

Election Day Call-In Show

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

November 3, 2020



Election Day Call-In Show

Today is November 3, 2020, the General Election.

This is the most important election of our time.  Issues at stake include disability rights, black lives matter, LGBTQ rights, pre-existing conditions, minimum wage, jobs, the economy, COVID-19, transportation, criminal justice reform, social justice, and the list goes on.

We are in the 2 o’clock hour on the east coast.  In Pennsylvania, polls close at 8:00 pm.  Your state poll closure hours vary.  Alaska is the last to close. Alaska, you close your polls at 1:00 am eastern time.

Black, Latinx, people with disabilities, and Asian American and Pacific Islander folks are showing up to vote.  More people have voted by mail than ever before because of COVID-19.  There are extensive security and accuracy measures for mail-in and absentee ballots, which means that millions of ballots may take a while to count.  But it is worth it.

According to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, more than 2.4 million voters have returned their mail-in ballots by Monday morning.  3.08 million voters requested mail-in ballots.  The return rate is 78%.

If you haven’t voted early or by mail, how can you vote today?

Emergency Absentee Ballot

Most states have a system in place to accommodate emergency situations such as an unexpected hospital stay or illness.  In Pennsylvania, it is called an Emergency Absentee Ballot.  The law in your state will be different.

This year, COVID-19 is a reason to request an emergency absentee ballot in Pennsylvania.

There is a system you must navigate to use this emergency ballot.  In Pennsylvania, call Disability Rights Pennsylvania and we guide you through the process.

The deadline to submit an Emergency Ballot Application to the County Election Board in Pennsylvania is 8:00 pm today.

The voter must complete and file with the County Election Board in a county an Emergency application.  Upon a determination that the voter is qualified for an absentee ballot, the Judge will issue an absentee ballot.  If you can’t appear, you can send an authorized representative to deliver the information.  This person can also bring your ballot back to the County Board of Elections by 8:00 pm today.  Otherwise, the Court of Common Pleas will direct a Deputy Sheriff or Constable to take the ballot to the elector.

Vote in Person

Get in line at your polling place.  How can you find your polling place?  In Pennsylvania, we have a link to  There you can enter your address and you can find the exact location of your polling place.

If you are in line by 8:00 pm, you will be permitted to vote.

If you find barriers to vote related to your disability, call us at Disability Rights Pennsylvania so that we can help resolve them.  800-692-7443.

If you want to resolve them on your own, ask to speak to the Elections Judge.  If the door to the accessible entrance is not open, ask them to open the door.  If there is no designated accessible space, ask them to create a space.  If a temporary modification needs to be in place to get up to a door or entrance, ask them to deploy one.  If you need help with the process, call DRP.

DropBox (with or without a designated agent)

If you have still had your mail-in ballot, please do not mail it today.  There is a risk that your ballot may not arrive at your County Elections office within 3 days.  Please take your ballot to your designated dropbox. You can vote in person provisionally if you haven’t yet received your mail-in ballot.  You can also vote in person if you take your mail-in ballot to your polling place and they spoil it.  The elections folks keep it and then you can vote in person.  Here’s info from DOS:

What if I requested a mail-in or absentee ballot but I didn’t receive a ballot, lost my ballot, or changed my mind and want to vote in-person?

  • If you already submitted a mail-in or absentee ballot, you cannot vote at your polling place on election day.
  • If you did not return your mail-in or absentee ballot and you want to vote in person, you have two options:
    1. Bring your ballot and the pre-addressed outer return envelope to your polling place to be voided. After you surrender your ballot and envelope and sign a declaration, you can then vote a regular ballot.
    2. If you don’t surrender your ballot and return envelope, you can only vote by provisional ballot at your polling place. Your county board of elections will then verify that you did not vote by mail before counting your provisional ballot.

If you have a disability and can’t make it to the dropbox, you can designate a person to take your ballot to the dropbox.  We have a link to the form on our website.

Intimidation and Harassment

If you believe that poll watchers have crossed the line into harassment and intimidation, call DRP immediately.  DRP is part of Election Protection and we will review each case separately with other lawyers to determine the next steps.   But you must call immediately and report the incident to us.

There have been 2 incidents of harassment today in Pennsylvania.  They were quickly resolved by local authorities.

If you have completed your mail-in ballot and you haven’t mailed it in yet, take it to the county drop box location.  You can mail it and have it postmarked today but in some parts of the state, the mail is taking longer than 3 days to deliver.  We are encouraging voters to take you completed mail-in ballot to the dropbox.  If you cannot get to the dropbox because of your disability, the Secretary of State has a designate agent form that you might be able to use.


If you face any challenges at the polls, call Disability Rights Pennsylvania.

We also have a list at #AdvocacyMatters of Election Protection and other national voter protection hotlines for people who need text, ASL, and many other languages.  Go to our website now and click on the #AdvocacyMatters show for today.

Every vote counts. Disability Rights Pennsylvania, along with Keystone Votes and the national Election Protection are making sure election officials take the time to count so every voice is heard.

Voter fact sheets for Pennsylvania


Disability Rights Pennsylvania: 800-692-7443

Secretary of State Elections Department or to get contact information for your County Board of Election:  1-877-VOTESPA

Election Protection: 866-OUR-VOTE

Spanish Election Protection: 888-VE-Y-VOTA

Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, or English Election Protection: 888-API-VOTE

Arabic or English Election Protection: 844-YALLA-US

National Association of the Deaf ASL Voter Hotline: 1-301-818-8683

National Federal for the Blind: 1-877-632-1940

Accessible Text Line:  Text ACCESS to 433-67

Spanish Text Line:  ACCESO to 433-67

Text problems with curbside voting:  Text CURBSIDE to 433-67

Find your Protection and Advocacy agency in your state go to