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October 1, 2020Alerts

Voters With Disabilities Can Now Apply To Vote Using An Accessible Remote Ballot Marking System

Voters With Disabilities Can Now Apply To Vote Using An Accessible Remote Ballot Marking System


After DRP and private co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the inaccessibility of the mail-in and absentee ballot process for blind voters, DOS agreed to implement a system that allows blind voters and other voters with disabilities to vote using an Accessible Remote Ballot Marking system.  DOS has now implemented that system, which will send eligible voters their ballots electronically and voters will be able to use screen-reading software to mark their ballots privately and independently.

Complete information about the Accessible Remote Ballot Marking system and how to apply is available here.

Voters with disabilities who want to vote using the accessible remote ballot marking system must FIRST apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot using the same process as other voters.  Most voters will be able to submit that application online.  You do NOT have to wait for that application to be approved.  Instead, as soon as possible after you submit that application you should submit a request for an accessible remote ballot.  You can request an accessible remote ballot by completing and submitting the accessible web-based request form found here.  Alternatively, you can complete the accessible PDF application form found and submit it by mail to your County Board of Elections or by email to

Once your application for an accessible remote ballot is approved, you will receive an email with instructions on how to access the ballot.  After marking your ballot, you will need to print it out.  Your County Board of Elections will send you by mail a packet of accessible voting materials, including the secrecy envelope and the return envelope.  After printing your ballot, you must first put it in the secrecy envelope (which will be the smaller of the two envelopes) and seal it.  You must then put the sealed secrecy envelope into the larger return envelope.  There is a declaration on the outside of the return envelope that you must sign (and, if another person helped you with the ballot, she or he must also sign the witness declaration on the return envelope).  It is critical that you use the secrecy envelope and not just put the ballot in the return envelope; if you do not, your ballot will not be counted.  It is also critical that you sign the declaration on the return envelope.

You can either mail or hand-deliver your completed ballot to your County Board of Elections. The return envelope should be pre-printed with the Board of Election’s address, but you may need to apply postage if you return it by mail.  Some counties are setting up drop boxes where you can deliver your ballots without mailing them.  You should contact your County Board of Elections to find out whether that is an option.  You can find contact information for your County Board of Elections here.

Normally, the law requires that the County Board of Elections must RECEIVE your ballot no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has extended that deadline for the November 2020 election, allowing ballots to be counted if they are received by the County Board of Elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 6 as long as they are postmarked by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, 2020.  However, that ruling is currently being appealed.  So, we urge you to submit your ballots as soon as possible.