|I will soon be introducing a package of bills that will secure and improve the elections process in Pennsylvania. There is no question that the administration of the 2020 General Election has left many Pennsylvanians distrustful due to a lack of transparency, security, and reasonable safeguards against any fraud. It is our duty as the General Assembly to restore confidence in this process.
The bills being introduced would enhance and clarify safeguards already in place under the bipartisan Act 77 reforms; importantly, however, these changes would prevent any administrative or judicial undermining of those safeguards similar to what was experienced this year.
This bill will ensure that all mail-in ballots are returned as intended under Act 77. A voter returning their ballot in person must sign the Declaration of the Voter in the presence of the county board of elections employee or official in order to ensure compliance with the law. This clarification will provide valuable reassurance to all voters that each mail-in ballot is securely and legally returned prior to being counted.
- Bill A (Scannable Ballot Verification) will require the creation and use of a secure ballot verification system, ensuring that each ballot counted is legitimate and has not previously been counted. With a unique, scannable bar codes that cannot be used to identify voters, Pennsylvanians will be reassured that only legitimate ballots are counted.
- Bill B (Ballot Return Methods) will clarify the only legal ways for a voter to utilize the vote by mail system. This bill will remove any alleged ambiguities in the current provision to clearly stipulate that a mail in ballot must be returned by the voter, either through the United States Postal Service, or in person to an official or employee of the county elections board at a permanent elections office.
Many of these reforms were part of House Bill 2626, which we passed with bipartisan support in September. Although the Governor’s threat to veto that bill stymied its progress in the Senate, the dysfunction experienced during the General Election has reinforced the need for these important measures.
- Bill C (8 pm Election Day Deadline) will ensure that the clear and explicit deadline already provided by the Pennsylvania Election Code for the receipt of mail-in or absentee ballots can never again be waived off by administrative or judicial fiat. This bill will clarify that, notwithstanding any emergency order, public health crisis, or other unexpected event, all mail-in or absentee ballots must be received by 8 pm on Election Day. This simple bill will improve the confidence all Pennsylvanians may have in the integrity of our elections system.
- Bill D (Signatures on ballots) will clarify the review and verification process for signatures on mail-in and absentee ballots, to ensure that they will serve the intended role as safeguards on the legitimacy of each ballot. This will provide a critical layer of security so that county elections officials may reasonably have confidence that each vote counted was cast by the voter him.