Delaware County is an exception, spokeswoman Lauren Contino said Thursday, because it kept its election offices open Monday and Tuesday and is not covered by executive orders issued by Gov. Corbett changing the absentee ballot deadlines. In Delaware County, absentee applications had to be filed by 5 p.m. Tuesday and the ballots themselves must arrive at county election offices by 5 p.m. Friday to count for state elections. They'll be counted for federal elections as long as they reach the county by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6.
In Philadelphia and other counties, where election boards shut down for two days, registered voters who expect to be unable to vote at their polling places on Election Day should be able to visit the county election board in person, fill out an absentee ballot application, provide some identification, mark up their absentee ballots and submit them on the spot, to be counted sometime after the polls close next week.
People who have already applied for absentee ballots and received them in the mail have until at least 5 p.m. Friday to get the ballots filled out and returned to election officials.
But for those who have applied for absentee ballots that have not yet arrived, the only sure way to get their votes counted is to visit the county election office by the end of the day Thursday and fill out an absentee ballot in person.
More than 600 people visited Philadelphia's election offices Wednesday to do that.
Under the state's new voter-ID law - a provision still in effect for this election - applicants for absentee ballots must provide a state Department of Transportation ID number, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, or a copy of an acceptable photo ID. County officials may seek additional information for people applying in person - in Philadelphia, that means some sort of photo ID not limited to the varieties spelled out in the new state law.
Normally, the deadline for seeking an absentee ballot application would have been Tuesday, a week ahead of Election Day. But Gov. Corbett extended the deadline by executive order because Hurricane Sandy forced the closing of most county election boards Monday and Tuesday.
For those counties that closed two days, including Philadelphia, the new deadline for requesting absentee ballots is Thursday at 5 p.m. In counties that closed for only one day, the deadline was 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Late Wednesday night, Corbett signed an executive order extending the deadline for voters to submit their completed absentee ballots to county election boards, until 5 p.m. Monday. This will allow election officials to count more ballots that arrive in the mail over the weekend and on Monday, and it will allow people who haven't yet mailed their ballots to deliver them in person to county election offices.
Under federal law, absentee votes for federal offices - the Presidency and Congress - will be counted as long as the ballots arrive by the time that regular polling places close, 8 p.m. on Tuesday. So the real impact of Corbett's latest executive order will allow more absentee votes to count in legislative races and the statewide contests for attorney general, state treasurer and auditor general.
Under state law, the ordinary deadline for absentee ballots to arrive at county election boards is 5 p.m. Friday. Corbett's executive order calls for ballots arriving after that deadline to be kept separate in case there's a legal challenge to his order.
Those who still have absentee ballots in hand can mail them to county election boards and have some hope, with the extension, of getting them to county boards in time.
But because of potential mailing delays, the only way to ensure an absentee ballot will count is to deliver it by hand or rely on someone else to.
Some county election officials are seeking more extensive relief on absentee ballot deadlines.
In Allegheny County, a judge agreed Wednesday to count absentee votes submitted to county election officials as late as 8 p.m. Election Day, the closing time for polling places statewide.
In Montgomery County, the county commissioners went to court Wednesday seeking permission to count absentee ballots that arrive by Nov. 13, a week after the election. Montgomery County Court Judge Bernard Moore denied the request, but a county spokesman said the commissioners were considering seeking reconsideration or an appeal.
Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or email@example.com.