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PRINTER'S NO. 518
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
524
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY D. MILLER, ULLMAN, SCHLOSSBERG, ISAACSON, HILL-
EVANS, MURT, KINSEY, RAVENSTAHL, DERMODY, T. DAVIS, OTTEN,
DeLUCA, FRANKEL, SCHWEYER, MARKOSEK, SOLOMON, WARREN,
DAVIDSON, INNAMORATO, DALEY AND DEASY, FEBRUARY 19, 2019
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, FEBRUARY 19, 2019
AN ACT
Amending Title 25 (Elections) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
Statutes, in voting procedures, providing for assistance for
certain qualified electors.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Title 25 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
Statutes is amended by adding a section to read:
ยง 3303. Assistance for certain qualified electors.
(a) Duty generally.--In consultation with county election
boards, election officials, individuals with a disability and
support service providers, the department shall ensure that
qualified electors who are individuals with a disability are
able to cast ballots privately, independently and in a
verifiable manner in accordance with this section.
(b) Online voting system.--
(1) By September 1, 2020, each county election board
shall make available to each qualified elector who is an
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individual with a disability and who wishes to cast a ballot
in an election under the jurisdiction of the county election
board an Internet system which:
(i) Provides a software interface designed to assist
the qualified elector to cast the ballot privately and
independently without the assistance of another
individual.
(ii) Permits the qualified elector to verify in a
private and independent manner the votes selected by the
qualified elector on the ballot before the ballot is cast
and counted.
(iii) Provides the qualified elector with the
opportunity in a private and independent manner to change
the ballot or correct an error before the ballot is cast
and counted, including the opportunity to correct the
error through the issuance of a replacement ballot if the
qualified elector was otherwise unable to change the
ballot or correct an error.
(iv) Notifies the qualified elector of any votes
cast for more than the maximum number of selections
allowed in a contest and provides the qualified elector
with a chance to correct the error.
(v) Allows the qualified elector to cast a
provisional ballot.
(2) In the development, implementation and maintenance
of the system under paragraph (1), the department shall:
(i) Provide technical assistance to each county
election board.
(ii) Coordinate resources and databases to ensure
the system provides uniform, official, centralized,
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interactive and integrated processes capable of audit.
(3) A qualified elector who is an individual with a
disability shall provide a letter or other documentation from
the qualified elector's attending physician verifying that
the qualified elector has a disability which may impact the
ability of the qualified elector to cast a ballot privately
and independently through traditional voting mechanisms. The
following apply:
(i) The specific nature of the disability need not
be disclosed.
(ii) The letter or other documentation need only be
provided once to the appropriate county election board
for the qualified elector to be eligible to cast a ballot
using the online voting system under this subsection.
(c) Devices at polling places.--
(1) By February 1, 2022, each polling place shall make
available to each qualified elector who is an individual with
a disability at least one device which:
(i) Permits the qualified elector to cast the ballot
privately and independently and in a verifiable manner
without the assistance of another individual.
(ii) Permits the qualified elector to verify in a
private and independent manner the votes selected by the
qualified elector on the ballot before the ballot is cast
and counted.
(iii) Provides the qualified elector with the
opportunity in a private and independent manner to change
the ballot or correct an error before the ballot is cast
and counted, including the opportunity to correct the
error through the issuance of a replacement ballot if the
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qualified elector was otherwise unable to change the
ballot or correct an error.
(iv) Notifies the qualified elector of any votes
cast for more than the maximum number of selections
allowed in a contest and provides the qualified elector
with a chance to correct the error.
(v) Allows the qualified elector to cast a
provisional ballot.
(2) In the development, implementation and maintenance
of the devices under paragraph (1), the department shall:
(i) Provide technical assistance to each county
election board.
(ii) Coordinate resources and databases to ensure
that the devices are uniform and functional and provide
integrated processes capable of audit.
(d) Penalties.--
(1) A person who willfully violates this section by
preventing or otherwise obstructing the development,
implementation or maintenance of the system or devices under
this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(2) The provisions of Chapter 17 (relating to penalties)
and Article XVIII of the Pennsylvania Election Code shall be
applicable to this section.
(e) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following
words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"County election board." The board of elections of a county.
"Department." The Department of State of the Commonwealth.
"Election." Any of the following:
(1) A general election.
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(2) A municipal election.
(3) A primary election.
(4) A special election.
"Election district." A district, division or precinct
established under the Pennsylvania Election Code in which all
qualified electors are eligible to vote in the same polling
place.
"Election official." As follows:
(1) An election officer required to conduct an election
in an election district in accordance with this section.
(2) The term includes any of the following:
(i) A judge of elections.
(ii) A majority or minority inspector elected or
appointed by a county election board.
(iii) A clerk or machine inspector appointed by a
county election board.
"General election." An election which the Constitution of
Pennsylvania requires to be held in an even-numbered year.
"Impaired dexterity." A condition which impacts the use of
an individual's hands or body.
"Individual who is blind." An individual:
(1) whose central acuity does not exceed 20/200 in the
better eye with correcting lenses; or
(2) whose visual acuity, if better than 20/200, is
accompanied by a limit of the field of vision in the better
eye to a degree that its widest diameter subtends an angle of
no greater than 20 degrees.
"Individual who is deafblind." An individual:
(1) Who has a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in
the better eye with corrective lenses or a field defect such
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that the peripheral diameter of visual field subtends an
angular distance no greater than 20 degrees or a progressive
visual loss having a prognosis leading to one or both
conditions.
(2) Who has a chronic hearing impairment so severe that
most speech cannot be understood with optimum amplification
or a progressive hearing loss having a prognosis leading to
this condition.
(3) For whom the combination of impairments described
under paragraphs (1) and (2) causes extreme difficulty in
attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving
psychosocial adjustment or obtaining a vocation.
(4) Who despite the inability to be measured accurately
for hearing and vision loss due to cognitive or behavioral
constraints, or both, can be determined through functional
and performance assessment to have severe hearing and visual
disabilities that cause extreme difficulty in attaining
independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial
adjustment or obtaining vocation objectives.
"Individual with a disability." Any of the following:
(1) An individual who is blind.
(2) An individual who is deafblind.
(3) An individual who is visually impaired.
(4) An individual with impaired dexterity.
(5) An individual with a mental health, developmental or
intellectual disability.
"Municipal election." An election which the Constitution of
Pennsylvania requires to be held in an odd-numbered year.
"Pennsylvania Election Code." The act of June 3, 1937
(P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code.
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"Polling place." The room provided in each election district
for voting at an election.
"Primary election." An election held for the purpose of
electing party officers and nominating candidates for public
offices to be voted for at a general election or municipal
election.
"Provisional ballot." A ballot which is used to record a
vote by an individual who claims to be a qualified elector when
there is an issue regarding whether the individual is a
qualified elector and which must be resolved before the vote can
count.
"Qualified elector." An individual who:
(1) possesses all of the qualifications for voting
prescribed by the Constitution of Pennsylvania and the laws
of this Commonwealth; or
(2) being otherwise qualified by continued residence in
the individual's election district, obtains qualifications
under paragraph (1) before the next ensuing election.
"Special election." An election authorized by law other than
a general election, municipal election or primary election.
"Support service provider." An individual who is trained to
treat or who otherwise assists or provides services to an
individual with a disability.
Section 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
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