Pennsylvania announces online ballot applications available in Spanish

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FILE – In this May 27, 2020 file photo, a worker processes mail-in ballots at the Bucks County Board of Elections office prior to the primary election in Doylestown, Pa. Deep-pocketed and often anonymous donors are pouring over $100 million into an intensifying dispute about whether it should be easier to vote by mail, a fight that could determine President Donald Trump’s fate in the November election. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — 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 Kathy 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.

“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.

“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 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.

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.

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