The State Senate today approved legislation that will bring the most comprehensive changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws in more than eight decades, according to Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34), who said the modernizations will make it easier for all residents to take part in elections.
Senate Bill 421 will also provide $90 million in much-needed funding to replace county voting machines, boosting election security and ensuring that local taxpayers did not have to pick up the tab for the required upgrades.
“While the election code has been updated periodically over the years, this is the biggest and most historic change in how Pennsylvanians cast votes since the election code was enacted in 1937,” Corman said. “In advancing a package of election modernizations, we will preserve the integrity of the ballot box, while at the same time making it easier for voters to choose the people who represent them at all levels of government.”
Among its provisions, the bill would:
- Extend the deadline for voters to submit an absentee ballot, from the Friday before Election Day until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
- Push back the voter registration deadline from 30 days before an election to 15 days.
- Allow voters to request and submit an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason.
- Create a permanent mail-in voter list.
Corman said these changes will promote a stronger system in which every voter can be certain that their vote counts, without creating any unnecessary delays for state residents to exercise their right to vote.
The bill also eliminates antiquated straight-party voting, something that 40 states have already done.
“Straight-party voting discourages voters from considering individual races and candidates, suppresses independent and third-party candidates, and leads to increased polarization of political parties,” Corman said. “Eliminating this antiquated part of state law will push voters to think more critically about who they are voting for and ensure candidates for elected office are decided on a case-by-case basis – and is filled by the best candidate.”
CONTACT: Jenn Kocher (717) 787-1377