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Boscola Bulletin

Absentee Ballots & Election Reforms

Last week, the Commonwealth announced that voters would be able to apply online for an absentee ballot. Previously, voters only choice was to complete a paper absentee ballot application and mail or hand-deliver it to the Northampton or Lehigh County Elections Office.

VoteThe website, went live on September 16, the first day that registered voters could apply for absentee ballots for this year’s General Election, which falls on Nov. 5. When an applicant completes the online form, the information is forwarded directly to the appropriate county elections office for processing.  It is important to note that a completed absentee ballot still requires a signature, as is the case with applications submitted via paper applications.

Initially, online absentee ballot applications will require a PennDOT driver license or ID number in order to be processed electronically. The Department of State is planning an update by 2020 that will allow use by applicants who do not have a PennDOT number.

The PA Election Code allows registered voters to apply for an absentee ballot up until one week before an election, which is just three days before the deadline to submit a voted absentee ballot. This year, the deadline to apply by paper or online is 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 29. Completed absentee ballots must be returned to the respective county elections office by end of business on Nov. 1st.

The system is currently accessible to all domestic Pennsylvania voters, and will be available to military and overseas voters by 2020.

Absentee ballots may be cast by individuals with illnesses or disabilities, individuals who will be away from their municipality on business on Election Day, and Pennsylvania students attending out-of-state colleges or universities, among others.

This is definitely a very important step in making it easier for citizens to participate in our democracy, there is much more that we can do to encourage participation in our political process – that is why I will continue to advocate for my legislation that, if passed, would allow for non-affiliated voters to declare their intention to vote in each primary election and participate in the democratic process.
Election reforms are very important to me, and I have been a leader in Harrisburg introducing many election and voter reform proposals.  Among these include:

  • Early notification for voter registration for minors to encourage them to get engaged in the process early.
  • Absentee ballots for any purpose for voters, as times are different, families often have two working parents and have responsibilities to their children and their activities, and the ability to get to a poll can be more difficult for some.
  • Establishing a statement of voters’ rights into the state election code law, clarifying practices and rights for voters which would be posted in each polling place.
  • Permitting voter registration on Election Day.
  • Permitting employee leave time for up to two hours during a work-day to allow individuals to vote.

Did you know that our current election code traces its roots to the 1930’s?  While changes over the course of the years have been made to it, it’s basically outdated and cannot properly capture the changes in our society since that time.  Rest assured, I will continue to fight for reforms to the election code, to allow and encourage more voter participation and to release the grapple that the major parties have on the political process.


Voter Registration Deadline Approaching

RegisterOctober 7, 2019 is the last day to register before the November 9, 2019 general election.

If you are not a U.S. citizen and a resident of Pennsylvania at least 30 days before the next election, you CANNOT register to vote.

You can submit your application:

Voter ID for First Time Voters

When voting at a polling place for the first time, you must show proof of identification, either with photo or not. Learn more about the types of ID you can show.

First Time VoterApproved forms of photo identification include:

  • Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card
  • ID issued by any Commonwealth agency
  • ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. Armed Forces ID
  • Student ID
  • Employee ID

If you do not have a photo ID, you can use a non-photo identification that includes your name and address.

  • Confirmation issued by the County Voter Registration Office
  • Non-photo ID issued by the Commonwealth
  • Non-photo ID issued by the U.S. Government
  • Firearm permit
  • Current utility bill
  • Current bank statement
  • Current paycheck
  • Government check

Become a Poll Worker

Poll WorkerElections in Pennsylvania are made possible by thousands of regular citizens serving as poll workers across the Commonwealth. We all depend on responsible workers to run smooth elections. Get involved today!

How to Become a Poll Worker

  • If you are interested in becoming a poll worker, fill out the Poll Worker Interest Form.
  • After you submit the form, your county's election office will contact you. 
  • You may reach out to the election office to follow up. You can find the contact information on the Contact Your Election Officials page. 


Poll workers generally work for the entire day on election day, from before the time the polls open at 7:00 am, until after the polls close at 8:00 pm.

Counties train poll workers on their election day duties. There are also poll worker training videos on the Department of State website.

All poll workers are paid for their time on election day.

Poll Worker Positions

Judge of Elections, Majority Inspector, and Minority Inspector

  • These three positions make up the local election board in each precinct. 
  • The judge of elections is the person in charge at the polling place. 
  • The judge of elections and the majority and minority inspectors work together to manage the polling place, keep track of the number of voters, and make sure that the returns are delivered to the county election office at the end of the day. 
  • These positions are filled during municipal elections every four years. The last time these elections took place was 2017, and the next time will be in 2021. 
  • When the positions are vacant, someone is appointed to the job.

Clerk and Machine Inspector
(also known as Machine Operator)

  • These workers support the local election board. They are supervised by the judge of elections.
  • Clerks and machine inspectors help check-in voters, manage the lines, and make sure voters know where to go at each step in the voting process. 
  • Unlike the elected positions, these positions are always filled by appointment.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)