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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 28, 2022 10:17 AM
From: Representative Michael H. Schlossberg and Rep. Peter Schweyer, Rep. Jeanne McNeill
To: All House members
Subject: The Decriminalizing Spouses Act
My wife can pick up a prescription at the pharmacy for me.  I can pick up hers too!  In fact, there are many errands we can run for each other.  Some are common.  Some are less so.  None are illegal.  Except one: I cannot legally drop off her absentee or mail-in-ballot without a bureaucratic process.  The law is clear about that.  Enforcement of such a law is absurd.  It diverts critically needed public safety resources from keeping our communities safe and wastes taxpayer dollars.  In Lehigh County, it has forced the District Attorney in Lehigh County to dedicate county detectives to investigate and monitor the delivery of mail-in-ballots.

Vote-by-mail and absentee voting is secure.  Election boards across the state have established a system to ensure ballots are distributed to qualified voters and can make sure voters do not cast multiple ballots.  It is time to introduce legislation allowing a spouse or blood-relative to return the ballot of a family member without red tape.  If a family member can pick up a prescription for a loved one, they should be able to help them cast a legal ballot.  The language will take language from Republican over-reach legislation aimed at making it more difficult for all Pennsylvanians to vote and introduce it as a stand-alone bill: the “Decriminalizing Spouses Act.”

Since vote-by-mail was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support, including near-universal Republican support, Republicans have resisted attempts to make corrections to issues which make effective implementation possible.  Election boards, county commissioners and voters have all raised the concerns and we are no closer today to making it easier to vote than we were when vote-by-mail was approved.  It is time to change course.  This is common-sense.  Helping people is a part of American life.  Unnecessary red-tape does nothing more than make it more difficult to vote. 

Introduced as HB2602