PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar announced today that the state’s online application for mail-in and absentee ballots is now available in Spanish.
“Language should not be a barrier for eligible Pennsylvanians to exercise their right to vote. Providing applications in Spanish is a vital step to ensuring that the many native Spanish speakers in the commonwealth can participate in our democracy,” said Secretary Boockvar. “These new online ballot applications are just one way that the Department of State is working to make voting easier and more accessible for eligible Pennsylvanians.”
Pennsylvania debuted online applications for absentee ballots for the 2019 general election. Beginning with the 2020 primary election, voters could also apply online for mail-in ballots without having to provide a reason. The new option of mail-in ballots was made available through Act 77 of 2019.
“Nationwide, Latinos are a strong, 32 million population eligible to vote in the general election in 2020. Hispanics have played a significant role in driving U.S. population growth over the past decade, and in Pennsylvania, 50% of statewide growth is attributed to Latinos,” said Emilio Buitrago, commissioner with the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs. “As part of the Governor’s goal of a government that works, this milestone of having the option to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot online in Spanish demonstrates the commitment of the Wolf administration to provide language access to our diverse communities across the commonwealth.”
When voters complete an online application for an absentee or mail-in ballot, their application is sent directly to their county election office, which verifies their voter registration. Once ballots are finalized, the county election office will mail the voter their ballot at the address the voter provided when they filled out the application. The Department of State recently announced that it will pay for postage on ballot return envelopes at no cost to the voter.
“Make the Road PA’s goal, since the beginning, has been to increase voter turnout and access to the ballot,” said Maegan Llerena, executive director of Make the Road PA. “This is an important step toward real language access. We look forward to working with the Governor to do even more to ensure an increase in voters in the safest ways possible.”
The deadline to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot in Pennsylvania is 5 p.m., Tuesday, October 27, 2020. The deadline to return an absentee or mail-in ballot to county election offices is 8 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, November 3.
Because of the expected volume of mail ballots, the Department urges voters to apply today or as early as possible and return their voted ballots to their county election office in person or by mail as soon as they receive them.
Registered voters can also apply for a ballot in person at their county election office, vote the ballot and return it all in one visit.
Paper applications for mail-in ballots and absentee ballots in Spanish are also available for download on the Department of State website.
The Department of State also offers free telephone interpretation services in many languages to callers who are limited English proficient. Voters can call toll-free 1-877-VOTESPA and request an interpreter.
For more information and resources about voting in Pennsylvania, visit votesPA.com.
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of State