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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 21, 2020 01:19 PM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward and Sen. Patrick J. Stefano, Sen. Joe Pittman, Sen. Doug Mastriano
To: All Senate members
Subject: Mail-In and Absentee Ballot Protection
We are introducing legislation to address absentee and mail-in ballots issues that emerged from the primary election and compromised voter confidence in our Commonwealth’s elections.
Even when an election is held during a global pandemic, voters must be able to trust our election process. Unfortunately, our current method for absentee and mail-in ballots falls very sort in instilling trust among too many voters, poll watchers, and candidates in their use.  The bill we are introducing will provide more safeguards to better ensure these ballots are accurately counted. 

 Specifically, our legislation will:
  • Prohibit mail-in ballot applications from being sent to a voter without the voter making a request for one with their signature attesting the mail-in ballot is for themselves.  

  • Limit the voter information requested on the outside of any absentee or mail-in ballot return envelope to name and address only.  No other identifying voter information may be displayed except for a scannable code used by county election officials for the sole purpose of identifying the voter's name and polling location.

  •  Remove the permanent status for mail-in ballots as well as for that for absentee ballots except for individuals who are permanently disabled.  

  • Ensure only one absentee or mail-in ballot is being sent per voter by prohibiting either ballot from being sent to a voter who shares any of the following with another voter:

  1. The same driver’s license number and first or last name;
  2. The same first and last name and date of birth;
  3. The same first and last name and last four digits of the social security number; or
  4. The same first and last name, date of birth, and last four digits of the social security number.
Voters deemed ineligible for either an absentee or mail-in ballot due to a possible duplicate record must be notified no later than one week prior to the election.
  • Require mail-in and absentee ballots to be received by the county election office by 5 PM on the Friday prior to the election.  Once received by the county election office ballots will be separated and recorded by voting precinct, and secured.  Absentee and mail-in ballots must be securely at the polling locations of the voters who submitted them prior to polls opening on election day, along with a list and count of the voters who submitted them from that voting precinct.  All absentee and mail-in ballots will only be opened and counted only once polls are closed.

  • Require the name of any individual who arrives to vote at a polling location to be checked prior to casting a vote against the list of absentee and mail-in ballots submitted for that polling location. Any discrepancies of a voter listed in both the poll book and on either the absentee or mail-in ballot list must be noted for the county election office, and the voter will have to cast a provisional ballot.

  • Enable a voter who requests an absentee or mail-in ballot application to vote instead in person without the need to submit a provisional ballot. The voter must bring their absentee or mail-in ballot to their polling location where it will be voided and recorded as voided in front of them before they cast their vote.  
 We hope you will join us in establishing these crucial changes for our upcoming elections.