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How to Vote This Week

There are many ways to cast a ballot for this important election. Philly 3.0’s engagement editor has a regularly updated breakdown on how best to vote now.

How to Vote This Week

There are many ways to cast a ballot for this important election. Philly 3.0’s engagement editor has a regularly updated breakdown on how best to vote now.

This year’s election will be the first of its kind, with three different ways to cast a vote, and a still unsettled legal environment, and some added public health complications due to the COVID-19 emergency. To help you make a vote plan, we’ll be outlining which voting options are still available each week.

New this week

1. This is the final week to confidently sign up for a mail ballot. If you’d like to vote by mail from home, sign up for your mail ballot this week here.

2. We’re seeing really clear evidence that ballots mailed through the Postal Service are being received and processed very quickly (~2 days). For that reason, we think it’s safe to keep “Mail Your Ballot (USPS)” in the GREEN zone for one more week.

The graphic below can help you answer the question of how should you vote, by organizing the voting options into three categories each week based on deadlines and other considerations:

GREEN: Green vote options are better ways to vote, since the deadlines for these options haven’t passed, and there is enough time before the deadlines that there is a low risk of processing or mail delays.

YELLOW: Yellow vote options are still available, but they are close enough to the deadline that there is a risk of delays. It’s better to vote yellow than not at all; if possible, though, vote green instead of yellow.

RED: Red vote options aren’t available anymore, so find a yellow or, even better, green vote option to use.

Want to learn more about each voting option? Click for more information about voting by mail at home, voting by mail in-person at a Satellite Election Office, and voting at your polling place on Election Day.

Voting infographic shows the best ways to vote in Philadelphia this week, using stoplights as a guide

There is no right way to vote, however, there are better ways to vote, depending on how close we are to Election Day and various deadlines. We hope this guide will help you decide what the better way to vote is, for you.

Here’s another question we’re getting asked a lot:

Should you bring your mail ballot to the polling place on Election Day and vote on a machine?

There has been a lot of confusion about whether a voter who requested a mail ballot should bring their ballot to the poll on Election Day, “spoil” it, and vote on a machine instead.

The idea here is that machine votes will be counted on Election Night and won’t contribute to the piles of paper ballots that need to be processed, so switching a mail vote for a machine vote should help things move more quickly and easily.

Originally, we thought this idea was advisable. However, now that we have more clarity about what this process will look like, we’re very concerned about the problems that it could cause. Our revised recommendation is that voters who requested mail ballots complete those mail ballots and return them at an SEO or dropbox as soon as possible.

There are two major concerns about the mail-for-machine vote switch. First, there is the concern that voters who attempt the switch will be denied the chance to vote on a machine, and will instead be pushed to vote on a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots aren’t treated like regular ballots, and it is significantly better for voters to return their mail ballot—even on Election Day!—at a dropbox or an SEO, than it is to vote provisionally.

Second, because this is a cumbersome process which will be rolled out for the first time during this election, there is a serious likelihood that it will create longer lines, and will force people to wait inside their polling places for longer than they otherwise would.

For a more detailed overview of the complete mail-for-machine switch process, and the areas of concern with both, read Philly 3.0’s mail at home and polling place FAQs. As always, reach out to with any questions you have at [email protected].


Jon Geeting is the director of engagement at Philadelphia 3.0, a political action committee that supports efforts to reform and modernize City Hall. To receive these voting updates by email, sign up here.

It’s election season in Philadelphia. Are you all set to vote?

Header photo by Ginny / Flickr

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