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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: July 8, 2019 11:47 AM
From: Representative Gene DiGirolamo
To: All House members
Subject: Helping our Counties replace voting machines
As we all know, our counties are in the midst of replacing voting machines. They are working diligently, within a short time frame, to make the right choices for their respective voters. This is a costly endeavor and we must take steps to provide needed funding.

That is why I plan to introduce a new bill that will continue the debate on the most timely and important provisions of Senate Bill 48. Given that the Governor has directed counties to replace their voting machines by the end of the year, funding for new machines is a priority of our counties. Like Senate Bill 48, this legislation will authorize the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA) to issue bonds for up to $90 million to provide such funding. Counties will be eligible to receive no more than 60% of the costs incurred in securing their voting machines or 60% of their estimated costs.

Given that voters who follow existing procedures and timelines for obtaining, casting and/or mailing absentee ballots can end up being disenfranchised due to postal service issues and tight timelines in the law, I believe that it is also a priority to extend absentee voting timelines and simplify the emergency absentee voting process. My legislation will include provisions of Senate Bill 48 that:
  • combine and streamline existing emergency absentee time frames and processes;
  • extend deadlines for county receipt of mailed and hand-delivered absentee ballots;
  • allow mailed absentee ballots to be postmarked no later than the first Friday prior to the election and establish criteria for accepting absentee ballots with illegible postmarks; and
  • provide for centralized county canvassing of all absentee ballots.

    During debate on Senate Bill 48, I also learned that counties are required to print an excessive number of paper ballots, which go unused and are thrown away after the election. Our county election officials are seeking to eliminate this wasteful practice and have proposed a printing requirement that is based on turnout in comparable prior elections. My proposal will also include this suggested change.

    As our counties move forward with their voting machine purchases and plan for the 2020 election, it is imperative that the General Assembly take up these issues in the coming months. Please consider cosponsoring this timely and important legislation.

Introduced as HB1783