Pennsylvania already allows voters who cannot make it to the polls due to sickness or being absent from the state to cast absentee ballots by mail. This update, also known as no-excuse absentee voting, would allow all voters to exercise the option of submitting an absentee ballot, providing another way for citizens to make their voices heard.
One simple, commonsense update is to allow citizens to cast their vote by mail. Pennsylvania already allows voters who cannot make it to the polls due to illness or being absent from the state on Election Day to cast absentee ballots by mail ahead of time. Providing the opportunity for any voter who needs to cast an absentee ballot will ensure all citizens’ voices are heard.
States with Optional Vote by Mail
Our democracy works best when all of our citizens participate, but too many aren’t able to make their voices heard in the current system. Optional voting by mail would give Pennsylvanians an option that works for any schedule. In addition to work and care-giving, some citizens are not able to vote on Election Day due to physical challenges. Currently these individuals are asked for personal health information on their absentee ballot applications. Pennsylvanians should not be required to provide this private information simply to access their right to vote. Allowing any citizen to cast his or her vote by mail ensures that all citizens—particularly seniors, veterans, and working people—have an equal opportunity to participate in our democracy.
Many states across the country already allow their citizens to vote by mail, so it’s been tested and proven. In 27 states and the District of Columbia, all voters are allowed to request and submit absentee ballots without providing an excuse for why they can’t vote in person on Election Day. Three other states—Oregon, Colorado and Washington—offer voting by mail without the voter even having to request an absentee ballot. If 30 states and the District of Columbia offer citizens the option to vote by mail, there’s no reason Pennsylvania shouldn’t too.
Voting by mail would not replace voting in person—it would simply offer eligible citizens another way to cast their ballots. Both voters and those who administer our elections would benefit from this update. Giving Pennsylvanians the option to vote by mail is an important step toward bringing Pennsylvania’s voting system into the 21st Century.