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How to properly fill out your ballot

The following was submitted by the League of Women Voters of Bucks County

Now is the time to make your plan for how you will vote in the Nov. 3 general election. The two options for voters are explained in more detail in videos by the League of Women Voters of Bucks County, available on their YouTube channel and website. Both options for voting require that voters are correctly registered. Check your registration status today at VotesPA.com and remember that Oct. 19 is the last day to register or make changes to your registration, should you have moved or changed your name.

Are you considering the option to vote in-person on Election Day? Confirm your polling location at the Pennsylvania Department of State’s VotesPA.com or call election officials at the Bucks County Board of Elections at 215-348-6154. Know your voting district before you wait in a long line at your poll, as the polling location may be where more than one district votes and you don’t want to wait in the wrong line. Is this your first time voting at your polling location? Bring along an acceptable ID. See details on acceptable IDs at VotesPA.com.

After registering at the poll, you will be given a ballot, a manila privacy folder and a pen. You can bring your pen as long as it is blue or black ballpoint ink. To mark your ballot, fill out the oval to the left of the candidate of your choice. There is no longer a shortcut straight-party option to vote for candidates of one party. However, this does not prevent you from selecting only candidates from one party, one by one.

Don’t leave when polls close. If you are in line by 8 p.m. on election night, you have the right to vote. Should there be any immediate problems that aren’t resolved with the help of the poll’s Judge of Election, call the Pennsylvania Department of State’s voter hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (868-3772). Save time and avoid uncertainty by viewing a demo video of the new voting machines (introduced at the June primary election) on the 2020 Election Information Portal at buckscounty.org.

The other option for registered voters is voting by mailed ballot. Again, know your registration status by visiting VotesPA.com. The deadline to apply for a mailed ballot is Oct. 27; however, apply for and return a mailed ballot as early as possible. Presently, a mailed ballot postmarked by 8 p.m. Nov. 3, and received by 5 p.m. Nov. 6 is counted. Still, there is litigation to challenge that ballots received after Nov. 3 should count. Consider the drop off options of the secure ballot drop boxes if timing for your vote is tight. The postal service suggests that 12 days should be the advance time to mail a voted ballot to have it received by the deadline.

Use the blue or black ink pen to fill in the correct ovals, corresponding to your votes. Ensure you see both sides of the ballot and don’t make any stray marks on the ballot. Avoid a “naked ballot,” one which will not count. It is critical to return your voted mailed ballot inside its secrecy envelope, placing that in the official postage-paid return envelope. Another common mistake that has disqualified many votes is that the voter neglects to sign the ballot affidavit on the outside of that official envelope.

If you prefer, you can return your own voted absentee or mail-in ballot to one of the three secure official Bucks County ballot drop boxes, specifically for Bucks County voters. Find the locations of the boxes at buckscounty.org, as well as the details of “on-demand” absentee and mail-in voting. Remember, you can only return your own voted ballot.

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