PA legislature: Second election reform bill likely

Verifying

A second election reform bill appears likely in Pennsylvania this year.

The chairs of the State Government Committee began circulating a co-sponsorship memo earlier this month for their joint plan. That plan includes a three day pre-canvassing rule, a continuous video surveillance of ballot drop boxes, tightened application deadlines and an elimination of the permanent mail-in list; among other changes.

“We have a bipartisan government,” Democratic Chairman Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, said on Twitter regarding the bill. “It’s how Pennsylvanian’s vote … they still expect us to get work done.” 

READ: New report foretells a focus on elections

In the memo, Street and Chairman Dave Argall, R-Pottsville, said their reforms incorporate feedback from the chamber’s Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform; as well as election officials and the general public. 

Provisions

Among its other provisions, the bill proposes applying bar codes to mail-in ballots so residents can track their votes; livestreaming the counting of all mail-in ballots; updating voter rolls on a monthly basis to purge deceased residents; and bolstering election worker training. 

The senators said in the memo their bill purposefully avoids “more controversial recommendations like voter identification requirements” and focuses instead on those with “broader bi-partisan support.”

In June, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a House-led election reform bill over what he considered voter ID rules that were too restrictive. He’s since softened his stance, suggesting that he might be open to reasonable identification requirements. 

READ: Wolf vows veto: Election reform bill clears House

The Legislature also began advancing a proposed constitutional amendment that would leave it up to residents to decide how stringent the state’s law should be on the matter. 

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Christen Smith

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.

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