HARRISBURG – Chairman of the House State Government Committee, Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union), today announced a sweeping update to the Pennsylvania Election Code that made its way through the General Assembly this week, paving the way for one of the largest election code reforms in decades.
The agreed-upon negotiation from the Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf will provide $90 million in state aid to help counties pay for the costs of new voting machines prior to next year’s presidential election.
“Since Governor Wolf’s unilateral and unprecedented decision to require all counties to purchase new voting machines last year, the General Assembly has been pushing to provide funding to the counties for those new machines and at the same time update our outdated election code,” said Everett. “This bipartisan bill creates the most significant improvements to our elections in more than 80 years. It’s a giant leap forward that makes voting more convenient for millions of Pennsylvanians and improves our election security.”
The legislation resembles a proposal vetoed by Wolf in June.
In addition to the voting machine funding, Senate Bill 421
• Eliminate the straight-party ballot option.
• Allow Pennsylvanians to vote by mail.
• Move the voter registration deadline to 15 days prior to a primary or general election.
• Allow voters to turn in both absentee and mail ballots by 8 p.m. the day of an election.
• Provide $4 million for census outreach to ensure all Pennsylvania citizens are counted.
The omnibus bill would also require counties to provide proof that they are updating their voter registration rolls and removing names of voters who no longer reside in the county.
Senate Bill 421 came to the House as a bill that would have simply eliminated straight-party voting. The additional election code provisions were added in the House State Government Committee, and the funding provisions were added by the House Appropriations Committee.
“I am proud to have been part of this effort and want to give a ‘shout out’ to Forrest Lehman, the director of Elections and Registration in Lycoming County, for all his help in crafting this legislation,” added Everett. “Too many times, Harrisburg enacts legislation that just will not work in the real world. Forrest was able to help us to achieve our goals of making voting more convenient and secure without making it impossible to implement for folks like him in county voting offices and poll workers across the state.”
Representative Garth D. Everett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Haas