Harrisburg – The State Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) that would ensure poll watchers can properly safeguard the integrity of Pennsylvania’s election process.
Senate Bill 573 – the Poll Watcher Empowerment Act – would allow all registered voters of Pennsylvania to be eligible to be a poll watcher in any precinct in the state of Pennsylvania.
The bill also ensures poll watchers can clearly observe the pre-canvassing and counting of all ballots. This includes having clear line of sight to observe the process within six feet or less.
Under the bill, candidates from all political parties could also increase the number of eligible poll watchers at a precinct from two watchers to three watchers.
In addition, Mastriano’s bill would stiffen penalties against any election official who blocks, impedes, or otherwise intimidates a poll watcher while performing his or her official duties on Election Day.
“Transparency is the key to rebuilding trust in our election system, and that starts with ensuring all parties have a fair opportunity to view the vote-counting process,” Mastriano said. “We saw numerous problems in previous elections where poll watchers were denied access to a polling place even with a legal certificate. We also saw issues where poll watchers were so far away from the ballot pre-canvassing process that they were forced to use binoculars. That is simply unacceptable. Improving transparency in the election process is something we should all welcome.”
Mastriano emphasized that his bill would not change any duties, powers or responsibilities of poll watchers and does not permit voter intimidation of any kind.
Senate Bill 573 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Media Contact: Josh Herman