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. Voters have lots of good questions about how it's all going to work, so to help clear up some of the most common ones, we created this FAQ with a first pass at some answers.
We'll keep this page updated as the situation develops, and as readers send us new questions. Please share this resource with any friends or neighbors who may have voting questions, and reach out with additional questions at [email protected].
Voting by Mail In-Person at a Satellite Election Office (SEO)
Beginning Tuesday, September 29th, Philadelphia voters will be able to cast a mail ballot in-person and before Election Day at a Satellite Election Office (SEO). This election will be the first time voters will be able to cast a ballot this way.
1. What is a Satellite Election Office, or SEO?
SEOs are in-person mail voting locations. They aren't like traditional Election Day polling places, where voters cast their vote on a voting machine. You won’t have the option to vote on a voting machine at an SEO.
Instead, voters at an SEO will request a mail ballot, fill it out, and turn it back in—all in one trip. The ballot will be printed in real time by a Commissioners’ staffer, and will look exactly like the ballot you’d receive in the mail.
2. Where are SEOs and when are they open?
To start, seven SEOs are opening on September 29. They’ll be open Monday-Thursday from 11:30am - 4:30pm and Friday-Sunday from 9:30am - 4:30pm. This list will eventually be expanded to include 17 total SEOs, and you will be able to vote at any of these locations, regardless of where you live.
Importantly, you cannot request a mail ballot at an SEO after the mail ballot request deadline on October 27th. This makes sense, since SEOs are simply in-person mail voting. Once the deadline for requesting a mail ballot passes, you cannot request a mail ballot either at home or at an SEO. After October 27th, SEOs will remain open, but they'll function exclusively as drop box locations.
3. Can I Register to Vote at an SEO?
Yes! Between September 28th and the voter registration deadline on October 19th, unregistered Philadelphians can register to vote and cast their ballots in a single trip.
To register, voters will need to give their name, address, birthday, and SSN. The registration process will take a few minutes. Once the registration is processed, voters can ask for and receive a mail ballot.
4. Can I vote at an SEO if I already requested a mail ballot?
Yes! Voters who are anxious to cast their vote but already signed up for a mail ballot can vote by mail in-person at an SEO.
Waiting on your mail ballot? Click here to check on its status.
5. Can I drop off a completed mail ballot at an SEO?
Yes! Voters can drop off a completed ballot that they received through the mail at a Satellite Election Office (SEO).
6. When will my vote be counted?
Since votes cast at SEOs are mail votes, they can’t be counted until the polls close on Election Day. We don’t know how long it will take to count all the mail ballots, however the City Commissioners have purchased ballot sorting machinery to expedite the process. The Commissioners plan to count votes around the clock, all day and night, until they’re finished.
As you’re setting your expectations for how long it’s going to take to get election results for Pennsylvania, assume that it will take at least three or four days to count all the votes cast in Philadelphia.