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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 16, 2019 04:12 PM
From: Representative Matthew D. Dowling
To: All House members
Subject: Absentee Voting Deadline Legislation
As elected officials we personally understand the importance of election day. Our constituents, the voters of Pennsylvania, value election day and, more importantly, the right and privilege they have to participate in the electoral process. When individuals are unable to appear at their polling place on election day and they are qualified to cast an absentee ballot, the process should be secure, but should not present unnecessary obstacles.

For voters who learn several days before an election that they must vote by absentee ballot, current provisions of the Election Code create hurdles that can be difficult to clear. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is the Tuesday of the week before an election. Election officials receiving a valid request must then mail the ballot to the absentee voter. The voter must, in turn, fill out and return the ballot by 5 p.m. of the Friday immediately preceding the election in order for the ballot to be counted.

Because this timeline has led to the disenfranchisement of qualified voters, I plan to introduce legislation that will extend the timeline and facilitate earlier mailing of civilian absentee ballots. Under this proposal, any legally cast absentee ballot that is received by a county board of elections on or before 5 p.m. on the Monday prior to election day will be counted. Additionally, the bill will authorize counties to begin mailing absentee ballots to civilian absentee voters beginning on the fourth Tuesday prior to an election. Currently, counties may commence mailing civilian absentee ballots on the second Tuesday before an election.

This common-sense proposal will make a small change to the Election Code that could have a big impact on individual voters who must exercise this important right and privilege by absentee ballot. Please consider cosponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1506