|After hearing from a variety of stakeholders including election officials in Pennsylvania and nationally from both parties, as well as the general public, the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform issued a report with several recommendations aimed at improving the election code. While more controversial recommendations like Voter ID requirements have been addressed by other pieces of legislation, we plan on introducing a bill to implement some of the other recommendations that have broader bi-partisan support. Our bill will address the following issues:
- Pre-canvassing mail-in ballots: The report recommends counties be allowed to pre-canvass mail in ballots “at least three days before Election Day and not later than 8 a.m. on Election Day.”
- Track mail-in ballots: The report suggests “it is important for voters to be allowed to accurately track their mail-in ballot through a barcode system.”
- Counting mail-in ballots: It is recommended that “the counting of all mail-in ballots needs to be transparent and live-streamed for public viewing.”
- Application Deadlines: Many county election officials requested more time to process mail-in ballot applications and requested “changing the mail-in ballot application deadline to two weeks prior to Election Day rather than the current one-week deadline. However, the county election office could receive a mail-in ballot application by an applicant up until one week prior to an election.” Our bill will move back the deadline to receive applications for ballots that would be mailed to a voter, although it will specifically allow voters to request a mail-in ballot in person at the county board of elections up until the current one-week deadline.
- Elimination of Permanent of mail-in list: The committee heard much testimony about the “Permanent Mail-In Ballot List” as creating “a tremendous amount of confusion”, and recommended that “this should be addressed.” This bill proposes elimination of the permanent mail-in voting list requiring voters to make separate requests for mail-in ballots each Election.
- Real-time Reporting of Deceased Voters: The report recommends “voter rolls should be updated on a monthly basis throughout the year, but on a daily basis for the two weeks prior to a primary or general election.” It further recommends that “similar to the processes in other states, all voter rolls should be cross referenced with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).”
- Drop Boxes: The report recommends that “proper security measures exist. Each drop box should be stationary and monitored by 24/7 video surveillance.”
- Training election workers: The report recommends “if the General Assembly considers requiring the training of election workers, they should ensure that every election worker is trained on proper procedure and election law prior to each election. This training should be made easily available to ensure that all interested and qualified poll workers are able to work on Election Day. The Department of State should work with the counties to assist in these efforts. Such training should also include procedures which allow designated poll workers and political observers to view the counting process which must be a completely transparent process. Electronic monitoring of the counting process would alleviate concerns regarding any potential malicious activity.”
We encourage you to join us in this bi-partisan fix to some of the issues in our election code by co-sponsoring this bill.