Last week, when I posted information on voting in Pennsylvania on Facebook, someone responded to my line “and it’s too late for an absentee ballot” by saying that Emergency Absentee Ballots are certainly possible.
Turns out that’s not really correct. Difference between de facto and de jure – yeah there’s a process, but if you really need one, it’s going to be tough to get one, and even harder to use that ballot.
My brother was planning on voting on Tuesday, but had a medical emergency Friday night. According to the law, since his heart attack occurred after 5 pm on Friday, he qualified. After the jump, the process and how it doesn’t work.
The bottom line is that the patient needs to appear in the Court of Common Pleas and get the ballot application signed, and then go to Voter Services and get the ballot, fill it out and turn it in. BUT if the patient is not able to, say, leave ICU, you’ll need a designate, a notary, possibly a visit from the sheriff and then someone else to go to court, then to Voter Services, then to the hospital and then back to Voter Services. I am not making this up.
Here is the official information from the County. You can read it and click on all the links, or you can take my word for it.
- The County Board of Elections will process and approve only those Emergency Absentee Ballot Applications that have been completed and signed by the applicant elector before a notary public.
- Emergency Absentee Ballot Applications must be submitted to the County Board of Elections between 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before Election Day and 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.
- How to obtain an Emergency Absentee Ballot if an emergency occurs after 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day:
- If you become physically disabled or ill between 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day and 8 p.m. on Election Day or if you find out after 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day that you will be absent from your municipality of residence on Election Day because of your business, duties or occupation, you can receive an Emergency Absentee Ballot if you complete and file with theCourt of Common Pleas in the county where you are registered to vote an emergency application or a letter or other signed document, which includes the same information as that provided on the emergency application.
- How to obtain an Emergency Absentee Ballot if you are not able to appear in court:
- If you are not able to appear in court to receive the ballot, you can designate, in writing, a representative to deliver the absentee ballot to you and return your completed absentee ballot to the County Board of Elections. If you are not able to appear in court or obtain assistance from an authorized representative, the judge will direct a deputy sheriff of the county to deliver the absentee ballot to you if you are at a physical location within the county.
- Emergency Absentee Ballot Applications from voters who experience an emergency after 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day must be submitted to the Court of Common Pleas no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.
To designate an authorized representative to deliver your Emergency Absentee Ballot, you must complete and sign the Authorized Representative Form and the authorized representative must complete and sign the Certification of Authorized Representative.
Bottom line, we need to make voting easier here in Pennsylvania.