Election 2020

Get in line by 5 PM: Philadelphia expands satellite election office hours for ballot request deadline

Tuesday is the last day to apply to vote by mail, but voting centers will remain open through Nov. 3.

A voter drops a ballot in the box at the Julia De Burgos satellite election office in late October

A voter drops a ballot in the box at the Julia De Burgos satellite election office in late October

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

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On the last day to apply for a Pennsylvania mail ballot, Philadelphia election officials are expanding hours for the city’s satellite election offices and guaranteeing any registered voter in line by 5 p.m. the right to apply for an early vote.

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27 — two hours earlier than usual for a weekday. Election officials confirmed that the lines will be closed at 5 p.m. sharp, but anyone who is waiting by that time will be allowed to apply for a ballot, no matter how many people are waiting. Other services at the sites also end at that time on Tuesday.

“Any individual who arrives at a satellite election office after 5:00 p.m. legally cannot submit a paper application,” reads a note on the City Commissioners website.

That means if you’re queued up by that time, you’re in the clear. Find a map and list of the offices here; any registered Philadelphia voter can go to any location.

Lines have grown into the hundreds at many of the centers, sometimes prompting officials to cut off the lines before the usual closing time of 6:30 p.m. The City Hall and Roxborough locations have been the busiest; as of last week, those offices accounted for nearly half of the ballots received.

So far, over 420k mail ballots have been requested in Philadelphia, and about 265k have been returned.


The Philadelphia City Commissioners — an independently elected, bipartisan office that manages the city’s elections — are ramping up awareness about the deadline using social media.

All 17 voting access centers will remain operational through Election Day to receive mail ballots. Normal operating hours will resume on Wednesday, from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday.

Voters who’ve already applied but haven’t yet received their mail ballots can pick up replacements at these locations any time up through Nov. 3, Deputy City Commissioner Nick Custodio confirmed.

You can also get a new one there if you used the wrong color ink — only black or blue is allowed, and votes marked in other colors will not be counted..

What’s the deadline for returning your ballot? Republicans continue to file legal challenges to a Pennsylvania law that extended the due date through Nov. 6.

So to be extra sure your mail ballot is counted, return it by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

To chat with a live person about any question you have regarding voting, text EQUALINFO to 73224.

Want some more? Explore other Election 2020 stories.

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