Workflow rules are triggered only after Insert/Update DMl OPerations. Hence you cannot send out emails using workflow rules without saving the record first.
You can create a VF Page/Lightning Page to send out emails using Apex without saving the record first.
send emails through Apex
If you have a limited number of special characters to replace...
Assuming the field is called Phone__c
Removes hypen, underscore, left and right parens. Extend to other common characters like period/dot, plus sign, blanks, etc.
If I enter (650)555-1212 I ...
I recommend removing the LastModifiedDate and LastModifiedById conditions within your Workflow rule criteria. Also, the LastModifiedById should be compared with an ID field i.e. a Salesforce Id of the User record for the MY SFDC USER ID user, instead of comparing it with the name of the user.
Remove these from your rule criteria and the workflow should ...
Figured out the issue. I didn't test by sending and replying to the Proxy email designated in the email-to-case setting. It also requires the setting of including the thread ID in the subject or body also located in the Email-to-case setting.
If you're attempting to use the merge fields in an email template/email alert outside of the approval process, I don't believe it is expected to populate as noted below.
You might be better off considering a report on Approval History (filter those submitted and ...