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A06874
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
2626
Session of
2020
INTRODUCED BY MOUL, RYAN, JAMES, STAATS, MILLARD, PYLE, THOMAS
AND MENTZER, JUNE 23, 2020
AS REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, AS AMENDED, JUNE 24, 2020
AN ACT
Amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), entitled
"An act concerning elections, including general, municipal,
special and primary elections, the nomination of candidates,
primary and election expenses and election contests; creating
and defining membership of county boards of elections;
imposing duties upon the Secretary of the Commonwealth,
courts, county boards of elections, county commissioners;
imposing penalties for violation of the act, and codifying,
revising and consolidating the laws relating thereto; and
repealing certain acts and parts of acts relating to
elections," in the Secretary of the Commonwealth, further
providing for powers and duties of the Secretary of the
Commonwealth; in county boards of elections, further
providing for powers and duties of county boards; in
preparation for and conduct of primaries and elections,
providing for deadline for change of enrollment of political
party; in voting by qualified absentee electors, further
providing for applications for official absentee ballots, for
date of application for absentee ballot, for approval of
application for absentee ballot, for official absentee voters
ballots, for voting by absentee electors and for canvassing
of official absentee ballots and mail-in ballots; in voting
by qualified mail-in electors, further providing for
applications for official mail-in ballots, for date of
application for mail-in ballot, FOR APPROVAL OF APPLICATION
FOR MAIL-IN BALLOT, for official mail-in elector ballots and
for voting by mail-in electors; and making a related repeal.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 201 of the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333,
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No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, is amended by
adding a subsection to read:
Section 201. Powers and Duties of the Secretary of the
Commonwealth.--The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall exercise
in the manner provided by this act all powers granted to him by
this act, and shall perform all the duties imposed upon him by
this act, which shall include the following:
* * *
(i) To develop a tracking system by which each ballot,
absentee ballot and mail-in ballot is assigned a unique
scannable identification number to ensure that multiple ballots
are not cast by a qualified elector.
Section 2. Section 302(p) of the act, amended March 27, 2020
(P.L.41, No.12), is amended and the section is amended by adding
a subsection to read:
Section 302. Powers and Duties of County Boards.--The county
boards of elections, within their respective counties, shall
exercise, in the manner provided by this act, all powers granted
to them by this act, and shall perform all the duties imposed
upon them by this act, which shall include the following:
* * *
(p) A county board of elections shall not pay compensation
to a judge of elections who wilfully fails to deliver by two
o'clock A. M. on the day following the election envelopes;
supplies, including all uncast provisional ballots; and returns,
including all provisional ballots cast in the election district
and [statements signed under sections 1306 and 1302-D.]
completed absentee ballot and envelopes containing the
declaration of the elector received by the judge of elections
under sections 1306(b)(3) and 1306-D(b)(3).
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(q) To administer the ballot tracking system developed by
the Secretary of the Commonwealth under section 201(i) as
prescribed and directed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Section 3. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1231.1. Deadline for Change of Enrollment of
Political Party.-- Not later than thirty days prior to an
election, a registered elector who desires to change the
enrollment of political designation or who, although registered,
has not previously enrolled as a member of a party may appear
before a commissioner, registrar or clerk or may submit an
application by mail under 25 Pa.C.S. § 1324 (relating to
application by mail) and state in a signed writing the political
party in which the registered elector desires to be enrolled. If
the signature of the elector is verified by comparison with the
registered elector's signature as it appears on file with the
commission, the commissioner, registrar or clerk shall make the
change in its registration records. If supported by other
evidence of identity, a mark may be made in lieu of a signature
by a registered elector who is unable to write. The mark must be
made in the presence of a witness who must sign the registration
application.
Section 4. Section 1302(i)(1) of the act, amended March 27,
2020 (P.L.41, No.12), is amended to read:
Section 1302. Applications for Official Absentee Ballots.--*
* *
(i) (1) Application for official absentee ballots shall be
on physical and electronic forms prescribed by the Secretary of
the Commonwealth.
(1.1) The application shall state that an elector who
applies for an absentee ballot pursuant to section 1301 shall
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not be eligible to vote at a polling place on election day
[unless the elector brings the elector's absentee ballot to the
elector's polling place, remits the ballot and the envelope
containing the declaration of the elector to the judge of
elections to be spoiled and signs a statement subject to the
penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn
falsification to authorities) to the same effect.] except by
provisional ballot. The application shall also state that an
elector may deliver an absentee ballot and the envelope
containing the declaration of the elector to the judge of
elections of the elector's election district at the elector's
polling place during the hours that the polling place is open on
election day.
(1.2) [Such physical] Physical application forms shall be
made freely available to the public at county board of
elections, municipal buildings and at such other locations
designated by the secretary.
(1.3) [Such electronic] Electronic application forms shall
be made freely available to the public through publicly
accessible means.
(1.4) No written application or personal request shall be
necessary to receive or access the application forms.
(1.5) Copies and records of all completed physical and
electronic applications for official absentee ballots shall be
retained by the county board of elections.
* * *
Section 5. Section 1302.1(a) and (a.3)(1) and (2) of the
act, amended October 31, 2019 (P.L.552, No.77), are amended to
read:
Section 1302.1. Date of Application for Absentee Ballot.--
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(a) Except as provided in subsection (a.3), applications for
absentee ballots shall be received in the office of the county
board of elections not earlier than fifty (50) days before the
primary or election, except that if a county board of elections
determines that it would be appropriate to its operational
needs, any applications for absentee ballots received more than
fifty (50) days before the primary or election may be processed
before that time. Applications for absentee ballots shall be
processed if received in person not later than five o'clock P.M.
of the [first Tuesday] prior to the day of any primary or
election or by mail or electronically of the fifteenth day prior
to the day of any primary or election.
(a.3) (1) The following categories of electors may apply
for an absentee ballot under this subsection, if otherwise
qualified:
(i) An elector whose physical disability or illness
prevented the elector from applying for an absentee ballot
before five o'clock P.M. in person on the [first Tuesday] prior
to the day of any primary or election or by mail or
electronically of the fifteenth day prior to the day of the
primary or election.
(ii) An elector who, because of the elector's business,
duties or occupation, was unable to apply for an absentee ballot
before five o'clock P.M. in person on the [first Tuesday] prior
to the day of any primary or election or by mail or
electronically of the fifteenth day prior to the day of the
primary or election.
(iii) An elector who becomes so physically disabled or ill
after five o'clock P.M. on the [first Tuesday] fifteenth day
prior to the day of the primary or election that the elector is
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unable to appear in person before five o'clock P.M. on the first
Tuesday prior to the day of the primary or election to apply for
an absentee ballot or at the polling place on the day of the
primary or election.
(iv) An elector who, because of the conduct of the elector's
business, duties or occupation, will necessarily be absent from
the elector's municipality of residence on the day of the
primary or election, which fact was not and could not reasonably
be known to the elector so as the elector could not apply in
person on or before five o'clock P.M. on the [first Tuesday]
prior to the day of the primary or election or by mail or
electronically of the fifteenth day prior to the day of the
primary or election.
(2) An elector described in paragraph (1) may submit an
application for an absentee ballot at any time up until the time
of the closing of the polls on the day of the primary or
election. The application shall include a declaration describing
the circumstances that prevented the elector from applying for
an absentee ballot before five o'clock P.M. in person on the
[first Tuesday] prior to the day of the primary or election or
by mail or electronically of the fifteenth day prior to the day
of the primary or election or that prevent the elector from
appearing at the polling place on the day of the primary or
election, and the elector's qualifications under paragraph (1).
The declaration shall be made subject to the provisions of 18
Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to
authorities).
* * *
Section 6. Sections 1302.2(c), 1303(e) and 1306(a)
introductory paragraph and (b)(3) of the act, amended March 27,
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2020 (P.L.41, No.12), are amended to read:
Section 1302.2. Approval of Application for Absentee
Ballot.--
* * *
(c) The county board of elections, upon receipt of any
application of a qualified elector required to be registered
under the provisions of preceding section 1301, shall determine
the qualifications of such applicant by verifying the proof of
identification and comparing the information set forth on such
application with the information contained on the applicant's
permanent registration card. If the board is satisfied that the
applicant is qualified to receive an official absentee ballot,
the application shall be marked "approved." Such approval
decision shall be final and binding, except that challenges may
be made only on the ground that the applicant was not a
qualified elector. Such challenges must be made to the county
board of elections prior to five o'clock p.m. on the Friday
prior to the election, or during the pre-canvassing of an
elector's absentee ballot, whichever is earlier: Provided,
however, That a challenge to an application for an absentee
ballot shall not be permitted on the grounds that the elector
used an application for an absentee ballot instead of an
application for a mail-in ballot or on the grounds that the
elector used an application for a mail-in ballot instead of an
application for an absentee ballot.
* * *
Section 1303. Official Absentee Voters Ballots.--* * *
(e) The official absentee voter ballot shall state that an
elector who receives an absentee ballot pursuant to section 1301
and whose voted ballot is not timely received by the commission
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or voted ballot and the envelope containing the declaration of
the elector is timely received by the judge of elections of the
elector's election district at the elector's polling place on
election day and who, on election day, is capable of voting at
the appropriate polling place may only vote on election day by
provisional ballot [unless the elector brings the elector's
absentee ballot to the elector's polling place, remits the
ballot and the envelope containing the declaration of the
elector to the judge of elections to be spoiled and signs a
statement subject to the penalties under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904
(relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) to the same
effect].
Section 1306. Voting by Absentee Electors.--(a) Except as
provided in paragraphs (2) and (3), at any time after receiving
an official absentee ballot, but on or before eight o'clock P.M.
the day of the primary or election, the elector shall, in
secret, proceed to mark the ballot only in black lead pencil,
indelible pencil or blue, black or blue-black ink, in fountain
pen or ball point pen, and then fold the ballot, enclose and
securely seal the same in the envelope on which is printed,
stamped or endorsed "Official Election Ballot." This envelope
shall then be placed in the second one, on which is printed the
form of declaration of the elector, and the address of the
elector's county board of election and the local election
district of the elector. The elector shall then fill out, date
and sign the declaration printed on such envelope. Such envelope
shall then be securely sealed and the elector shall send same by
mail, postage prepaid, except where franked, or deliver it in
person to said county board of election or to the judge of
elections of the elector's election district at the elector's
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polling place.
* * *
(b) * * *
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2), an elector who requests
an absentee ballot and who is not shown on the district register
as having voted the ballot may [vote at the polling place if the
elector remits the ballot and the envelope containing the
declaration of the elector to the judge of elections to be
spoiled and the elector signs a statement subject to the
penalties under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn
falsification to authorities) in substantially the following
form:
I hereby declare that I am a qualified registered elector who
has obtained an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot. I further
declare that I have not cast my absentee ballot or mail-in
ballot, and that instead I remitted my absentee ballot or
mail-in ballot and the envelope containing the declaration of
the elector to the judge of elections at my polling place to
be spoiled and therefore request that my absentee ballot or
mail-in ballot be voided.
(Date)
(Signature of Elector)................(Address of Elector)
(Local Judge of Elections)] deliver the completed absentee
ballot to the judge of elections of the elector's election
district at the elector's polling place.
* * *
Section 7. Section 1308(g)(1.1) and (2) of the act, amended
March 27, 2020 (P.L.41, No.12), is amended, SUBSECTION (G) IS
AMENDED BY ADDING A PARAGRAPH and the section is amended by
adding a subsection to read:
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Section 1308. Canvassing of Official Absentee Ballots and
Mail-in Ballots.--* * *
(a.1) A judge of elections shall deliver all completed
absentee ballots , MAIL-IN BALLOTS and envelopes containing the
declaration of the elector received under sections 1306(b)(3)
and 1306-D(b)(3) to the county board of elections by two o'clock
A.M. on the day following the election.
* * *
(g) * * *
(1.1) The county board of elections shall meet [no earlier
than seven o'clock A.M. on election day] AT LEAST ONCE BEFORE
ELECTION DAY at the county courthouse or the offices of the
county board of election to pre-canvass all ballots received
prior to the meeting. THE MEETING.
(1.2) A COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS THAT MEETS TO PRE-CANVASS
ABSENTEE BALLOTS AND MAIL-IN BALLOTS MAY COMPLETE THE TASKS
DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (4)(I), (II) AND (III) AT ANY POINT
DURING THE PERIOD BEGINNING TWENTY-ONE DAYS PRIOR TO THE
ELECTION AND UP TO AND INCLUDING THE DAY BEFORE THE ELECTION,
PROVIDED THAT THE BOARD COMPLETES A PRE-CANVASS OF ALL ABSENTEE
BALLOTS OR MAIL-IN BALLOTS RECEIVED PRIOR TO THE FRIDAY BEFORE
THE ELECTION. A county board of elections shall provide at least
forty-eight hours' notice of a pre-canvass meeting by publicly
posting a notice of a pre-canvass meeting on its publicly
accessible Internet website. [One] The authorized representative
of each candidate in an election, the county chairperson of each
political party and one representative from each political party
shall be permitted to remain in the room in which the absentee
ballots and mail-in ballots are pre-canvassed. The proceedings
of the pre-canvassing shall be recorded and made available upon
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request. No person observing, attending or participating in a
pre-canvass meeting may disclose the results of any portion of
any pre-canvass meeting prior to the close of the polls.
(2) The county board of elections shall meet no earlier than
the close of polls on the day of the election at the county
courthouse or the offices of the county board of election and no
later than the third day following the election to begin
canvassing absentee ballots and mail-in ballots not included in
the pre-canvass meeting. The meeting under this paragraph shall
continue until all absentee ballots and mail-in ballots received
prior to the close of the polls have been canvassed. The county
board of elections shall not record or publish any votes
reflected on the ballots prior to the close of the polls. The
canvass process shall continue through the eighth day following
the election for valid military-overseas ballots timely received
under 25 Pa.C.S. § 3511 (relating to receipt of voted ballot). A
county board of elections shall provide at least forty-eight
hours' notice of a canvass meeting by publicly posting a notice
on its publicly accessible Internet website. One authorized
representative of each candidate in an election, the county
chairperson of each political party and one representative from
each political party shall be permitted to remain in the room in
which the absentee ballots and mail-in ballots are canvassed.
The proceedings of the canvassing shall be recorded and made
available upon request.
* * *
Section 8. Section 1302-D(f) of the act, amended March 27,
2020 (P.L.41, No.12), is amended and subsection (g) is amended
by adding a paragraph to read:
Section 1302-D. Applications for official mail-in ballots.
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* * *
(f) Form.--The following shall apply:
(1) Application for an official mail-in ballot shall be
on physical and electronic forms prescribed by the Secretary
of the Commonwealth.
(2) The application shall state that a voter who applies
for a mail-in ballot under section 1301-D shall not be
eligible to vote at a polling place on election day [unless
the elector brings the elector's mail-in ballot to the
elector's polling place, remits the ballot and the envelope
containing the declaration of the elector to the judge of
elections to be spoiled and signs a statement subject to the
penalties under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn
falsification to authorities) to the same effect.] except by
provisional ballot. The application shall also state that an
elector may deliver a mail-in ballot and the envelope
containing the declaration of the elector to the judge of
elections of the elector's election district at the elector's
polling place during the hours that the polling place is open
on election day.
(3) The physical application forms shall be made freely
available to the public at county board of elections,
municipal buildings and at other locations designated by the
Secretary of the Commonwealth.
(4) The electronic application forms shall be made
freely available to the public through publicly accessible
means.
(5) No written application or personal request shall be
necessary to receive or access the application forms.
(6) Copies and records of all completed physical and
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electronic applications for official mail-in ballots shall be
retained by the county board of elections.
(g) Permanent mail-in voting list.--
* * *
(1.1) A county board of elections shall remove a person
from the permanent mail-in ballot list if the elector does
any of the following:
(i) The person loses eligibility to vote.
(ii) The elector votes in person at the elector's
polling place.
(iii) The elector requests removal from the
permanent mail-in ballot list.
* * *
Section 9. Section 1302.1-D(a) of the act, added October 31,
2019 (P.L.552, No.77), is amended to read:
Section 1302.1-D. Date of application for mail-in ballot.
(a) General rule.--Applications for mail-in ballots shall be
received in the office of the county board of elections not
earlier than 50 days before the primary or election, except that
if a county board of elections determines that it would be
appropriate to the county board of elections' operational needs,
any applications for mail-in ballots received more than 50 days
before the primary or election may be processed before that
time. Applications for mail-in ballots shall be processed if
received in person not later than five o'clock P.M. of the
[first Tuesday] prior to the day of any primary or election of
by mail or electronically of the fifteenth day prior to the day
of any primary or election.
* * *
Section 10. Sections 1302.2-D(A)(3), 1303-D(e) and 1306-D(a)
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and (b)(3) of the act, amended March 27, 2020 (P.L.41, No.12),
are amended to read:
SECTION 1302.2-D. APPROVAL OF APPLICATION FOR MAIL-IN BALLOT.
(A) APPROVAL PROCESS.--THE COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS, UPON
RECEIPT OF ANY APPLICATION OF A QUALIFIED ELECTOR UNDER SECTION
1301-D, SHALL DETERMINE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE APPLICANT BY
VERIFYING THE PROOF OF IDENTIFICATION AND COMPARING THE
INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THE APPLICATION WITH THE INFORMATION
CONTAINED ON THE APPLICANT'S PERMANENT REGISTRATION CARD. THE
FOLLOWING SHALL APPLY:
* * *
(3) CHALLENGES MUST BE MADE TO THE COUNTY BOARD OF
ELECTIONS PRIOR TO FIVE O'CLOCK P.M. ON THE FRIDAY PRIOR TO
THE ELECTION OR DURING THE PRECANVASSING OF AN ELECTOR'S
MAIL-IN BALLOT, WHICHEVER IS EARLIER: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT
A CHALLENGE TO AN APPLICATION FOR A MAIL-IN BALLOT SHALL NOT
BE PERMITTED ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE ELECTOR USED AN
APPLICATION FOR A MAIL-IN BALLOT INSTEAD OF AN APPLICATION
FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT OR ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE ELECTOR
USED AN APPLICATION FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT INSTEAD OF AN
APPLICATION FOR A MAIL-IN BALLOT.
* * *
Section 1303-D. Official mail-in elector ballots.
* * *
(e) Notice.--The official mail-in voter ballot shall state
that a voter who receives a mail-in ballot under section 1301-D
and whose voted mail-in ballot is not timely received by the
commission or voted ballot and the envelope containing the
declaration of the elector is timely received by the judge of
elections of the elector's election district at the elector's
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polling place on election day may only vote on election day by
provisional ballot [unless the elector brings the elector's
mail-in ballot to the elector's polling place, remits the ballot
and the envelope containing the declaration of the elector to
the judge of elections to be spoiled and signs a statement
subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to
unsworn falsification to authorities) to the same effect].
Section 1306-D. Voting by mail-in electors.
(a) General rule.--At any time after receiving an official
mail-in ballot, but on or before eight o'clock P.M. the day of
the primary or election, the mail-in elector shall, in secret,
proceed to mark the ballot only in black lead pencil, indelible
pencil or blue, black or blue-black ink, in fountain pen or ball
point pen, and then fold the ballot, enclose and securely seal
the same in the envelope on which is printed, stamped or
endorsed "Official Election Ballot." This envelope shall then be
placed in the second one, on which is printed the form of
declaration of the elector, and the address of the elector's
county board of election and the local election district of the
elector. The elector shall then fill out, date and sign the
declaration printed on such envelope. Such envelope shall then
be securely sealed and the elector shall send same by mail,
postage prepaid, except where franked, or deliver it in person
to said county board of election or to the judge of elections of
the elector's election district at the elector's polling place.
* * *
(b) Eligibility.--
* * *
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2), an elector who
requests a mail-in ballot and who is not shown on the
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district register as having voted the ballot may [vote at the
polling place if the elector remits the ballot and the
envelope containing the declaration of the elector to the
judge of elections to be spoiled and the elector signs a
statement subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904
(relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) which
shall be in substantially the following form:
I hereby declare that I am a qualified registered elector
who has obtained an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot. I
further declare that I have not cast my absentee ballot or
mail-in ballot, and that instead I remitted my absentee
ballot or mail-in ballot to the judge of elections at my
polling place to be spoiled and therefore request that my
absentee ballot or mail-in ballot be voided.
(Date)
(Signature of Elector)...........(Address of Elector)
(Local Judge of Elections)] deliver the completed mail-in
ballot and the envelope containing the declaration of the
elector to the judge of elections of the elector's election
district at the elector's polling place.
* * *
Section 11. Repeals are as follows:
(1) The General Assembly declares that the repeal under
paragraph (2) is necessary for the addition of section
1231.1.
(2) 25 Pa.C.S § 1503 is repealed.
Section 12. This act shall take effect in 30 days.
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