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05/10/2021 12:55 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=35225
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 29, 2021 09:36 AM
From: Representative Eric R. Nelson and Rep. Clint Owlett, Rep. James B. Struzzi, II
To: All House members
Subject: 3rd Party Election Grants
 
We will soon be introducing legislation to ensure equitable distribution and transparency of private funding grants for Pennsylvania’s elections.
 
One of the most concerning events of the 2020 Election was the multi-million dollar influx of private funding for election administration across Pennsylvania and around the country. State Government Committee hearings have additionally confirmed that this money in some cases came with private contracts dictating how counties would manage elections and even the number of voting opportunities available to voters.

This flood of money was uneven, with some counties seeing vast sums and others very little, or none at all. Article VII Section 6 of the Pennsylvania Constitution is clear that “All laws regulating the holding of elections by the citizens, or for the registration of electors, shall be uniform throughout the State.” The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution provides further guarantees that all eligible voters must be given equal access to their right to vote.

It is therefore imperative we ensure that the availability of voting opportunities does not differ based on which county a Pennsylvanian happens to live in.

As we work to restore voter confidence through transparency and election consistency, it is essential that we prevent any reoccurrence of this unequal access to voting driven by non-public funds. Our bill will prevent any county elections officials from accepting any private funding.

If interest groups wish to help defray the cost of elections in Pennsylvania, they may contribute directly to the Pennsylvania Department of State, which must redistribute the funding evenly based on voting age population. The Department will also be prevented from accepting any funding unless it is free from any policy-oriented conditions or restrictions.

Additionally, the Department of State’s expenditures on election advertising and promotion of voting opportunities raised deep concern related to unequal spending in different regions of the state. The legislation will further require that the Department of State invest its advertising expenditures equally across the Commonwealth based on voting age population.

Please consider joining us in sponsoring this important legislation.