Harkins seeks to resolve confusion over why voters on ‘permanent’ mail-in ballot list are being asked to reapply

ERIE, Feb. 25 – With Pennsylvania residents now eligible to apply for mail-in voting in the 2021 elections, state Rep. Pat Harkins is seeking to clear up confusion among voters who signed up last year for a mail-in voting list described as “permanent,” but are being asking to re-apply for mail ballots this year.

“Voters who were given an option last year to register for a ‘permanent’ mail-in voting list are understandably baffled as to why they are receiving letters this year telling them that they have to apply again to receive their mail ballots for the 2021 elections,” Harkins said. “The form is not an error – residents do need to reapply.

“The confusion arose because the state has been referring to a ‘permanent mail-in voter status’ and that has naturally led people to believe they can apply once, be placed on a permanent list, and not have to reapply each year. In fact, getting on the list means that you are good for one year only – it’s best to think of the list as an annual list. The state has acknowledged that using the term ‘permanent’ was confusing and is working to remedy the confusion.”  

Harkins said voters who received the letter and wish to receive their ballots by mail for the 2021 elections should complete and submit the application form on the back of the letter. Completing the form means voters will automatically receive ballots for this year’s elections but will likely have to reapply next year for the 2022 elections.

Additional information is available by visiting the Erie County Elections and Voting office here or the state’s website here.