HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf will deliver the biggest changes in state election laws in decades by signing an election reform bill Thursday.
The bill provides voters new options and conveniences, including vote-by-mail, an extended 50-day mail-in voting period, a permanent mail-in voter list, and more time to register to vote and submit ballots by mail.
The new law also authorizes a $90 million bond to help counties fund the purchase of new voting systems with a paper trail that will enhance election security.
“This is a major advancement for elections in Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “While I understand the concerns about eliminating the straight party ticket option, this bipartisan bill creates the most significant improvements to our elections in more than 80 years. Pennsylvania has gone from collectively being the state least friendly to voters to a national leader in voting and election security reforms. It’s a giant leap forward that makes voting more convenient for millions of Pennsylvanians and improves our election security.”
The changes include a new vote-by-mail option, the longest vote-by-mail window in the country, 15 additional days to register to vote, a new permanent mailing list for voters allowing voters to request to automatically receive an application by mail for a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot each year, and extended deadlines for voters to submit absentee or mail-in ballots up until 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election.
“To rebuild trust in our government, we need fair and accessible elections for all citizens from our rural communities to the big cities,” said Governor Wolf. “Modernizing our elections removes barriers to the voting booth and will hopefully encourage more people to participate in our elections.”
These changes will not impact the November 5, 2019 election.