HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Senate today passed a comprehensive voter rights bill designed to transform our election system and restore public confidence in the outcome of elections, said Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32), who supported the measure.
The Voting Rights Protection Act (House Bill 1300) is a wide-ranging plan that expands access, boosts election security and helps counties administer elections in an accurate and more timely manner. The bill will make it easier for Pennsylvanians to vote, but harder to cheat.
The bill expands election security by:
- Ensuring voter verification through an updated county-provided voter registration card;
- Creating an election fraud hotline;
- Banning private donations to counties for election administration; and
- Doubling penalties for Election Code violations.
The bill protects voting access by:
- Allowing voters with disabilities to move the front of the line at polling places;
- Providing for and securing election drop boxes;
- Setting standards for counting all votes including allowing non-fatal defects on mail-in ballots, such as unsigned or undated ballots to be corrected; and
- Establishing an early voting period to begin in 2025.
“In the last few elections, voters have had reasons not to trust Pennsylvania’s election process, most recently in May’s primary when 5,500 ballots were misprinted and had to be hand counted. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that our elections should be more secure with voter verification, so today we took action to make that happen,” Sen. Stefano said. “Every person should be able to trust the accuracy of our elections.”
The package contains critical reforms requested by counties to help elections run more smoothly. This includes changing voter registration and mail-in ballot deadlines, as well as giving counties more time before Election Day to count mail-in votes.
The bill also establishes a state Bureau of Election Audits that will be required to conduct ballot comparison audits to compare machine ballots to voter ballots; ballot-polling audits that will select ballots at random for individual review; and performance audits on county and state election systems every five years.
The Voting Rights Protection Act now goes to Gov. Wolf’s desk. He will have 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it or allow the bill to become law without his signature.
CONTACT: Mark Fetzko, 717-787-7175