Voter I.D. Friday alert: Absentee ballots

Posted: September 14, 2012

If the Pennsylvania Voter ID law is allowed to stand, your right to vote may be at risk. Even if you have voted at the same polling place for years, you now must bring a valid photo ID to the polls every time you vote.

NOW is the time to make sure you and your family members have the proper photo identification that must be shown at the polls on Nov. 6.

Check the list of acceptable ID at the Committee of Seventy: If you think you have the right ID, double-check NOW to make sure that it has all the elements necessary for you to vote.

DO NOT BE CONFUSED: The card you get in the mail after registering to vote - or re-registering after you move -IS NOT valid identification to actually vote at the polls.

Even though the Voter Registration form mentions a "Voter ID card" that will be sent in the mail within two weeks, that card does not have your photo on it.

Out-of-state driver's licenses are not acceptable ID for voting in Pennsylvania.

Beginning with the Nov. 6 election, absentee ballots must also have identification. Unlike voting in person, if you do not have a photo ID but DO have a Social Security number, you can vote with an absentee ballot.

In presidential election years, the Philadelphia Board of Elections gets 18,000 to 20,000 applications for absentee ballots, so if you need one, you should apply for it as soon as possible.

But to qualify for an absentee ballot, you must (a) not be able to vote in person either because you will be out of town on election day or (b) you have an illness or disability that makes it impossible for you to vote in person.

You can download an application for an absentee ballot at You also can apply for one by phone. In Philadelphia, call 215-686-3469. You can also write for an application or pick one up in person: County Board of Elections, Room 142, City Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 19107. If you live in another county, go to and click on the "County Information Link" for the address and telephone number.

On the application, you must write in your Pennsylvania Driver's License number or the number on your PennDOT non-driver photo ID or the last four digits of your Social Security card. If you don't have any of these numbers, you must enclose a photocopy of one of the other acceptable ID.

Return the Application to the County Board of Elections by Oct. 30 by mail or in person. A postmark isn't good enough: the application must be in the office by 5 p.m. that day. Once your application is processed, you will be sent an absentee ballot. It usually takes about a week

If you need an absentee ballot, apply for it as soon as you can.

If you have questions or run into trouble, call the Hotline for Voters: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). Press "1" for Elections in Pennsylvania. Questions are answered live Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Web Site of the Committee of Seventy ( contains Voter ID guides for all Voters, with special guides for seniors, students and others.

Start NOW to make sure your right to vote is protected.

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