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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: September 21, 2020 10:34 AM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Protection of Absentee and Mail-In Ballot Deadlines
I am introducing legislation amending the Election Code to prohibit any extension of the 8 p.m. Election Day deadline for absentee or mail-in ballots, other than those received by miliary and overseas voters. 

Our Election Code now provides for an 8 p.m. Election Day deadline for absentee or mail-in ballot; this legislation will preserve that by asserting the statutory deadline for absentee and mail-in ballots absolutely cannot be extended unilaterally by a judicial decision or a gubernatorial executive order.

Our current ballot deadline was one aspect of the recent state Supreme Court's decision in which there was bi-partisan dissension among the justices.  In her dissenting opinion, Justice Christine Donohue affirmed it when writing, "... the clear legislative intent was that all ballots were to be cast by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, the termination of the balloting process," and "The legislative choice of Election Day at 8:00 p.m. should remain intact." 

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board publicly recognized the Court's majority ruling as a blatant disregard of state law in writing, "Yet the majority has no qualms about voiding the Nov. 3 ballot deadline, which the Legislature obviously meant to be mandatory."  

This bill will not only provide further protection of the statutory deadline for absentee and mail-in ballots but also declare the responsibility given solely by the United States Constitution to the legislature in regulating elections by setting the times, places, and manner for them.