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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 4, 2018 10:34 AM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Early Voting
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation that would allow early voting in Pennsylvania. The commonwealth has no early voting and the only circumstances that allows one to vote via absentee ballot are those who will be absent from their municipality due to their occupation or when an individual is unable to vote in person because of illness, physical disability, or religious holiday.

More than two-thirds of the United States has some form of early voting with the voting period ranging from as much as 45 days before an election to as little as four days according to the National Conference of State Legislature. Early voting provides citizens with more options to make it easier and convenient to participate in the process. Standing in long lines is often eliminated and if one or several voting machine malfunctions, people will still have the ability to come back to cast their vote at another time. It can also be argued that Pennsylvania’s single-day voting disenfranchises certain occupations, especially those with shifts that are longer than eight hours, including EMT personnel and paramedics, nurses, doctors, and firefighters or even college students with a packed schedule. Additionally, early voting could elevate some issues that may arise if someone shows up to the wrong polling place.

My bill would allow voting to take place 15 days prior to Election Day. The polling places would be geographically located and open on both weekdays and weekends so that electors are provide an equal opportunity to participate in the process.

In the 2018 General Election, 36 million votes took place during early voting. These numbers make it clear citizens of the United States are becoming more engaged in the political process and I feel that it is imperative that Pennsylvania starts passing laws with the goal of breaking down as many roadblocks and increasing voter turnout.

This legislation was introduce as Senate Bill 440 during the 2017-18 session with the following co sponsors: Leach, Blake, Brewster, Costa, Farnese, Yudichak, Schwank, Haywood, Hughes, Boscola, Browne and Williams.

Introduced as SB294