Voting Rights Protection Act unveiled by House Republicans in midst of ongoing debate

This Week in Pennsylvania

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — After months and months of hearings by the House State Government Committee, House Republicans revealed legislation to transform and improve Pennsylvania’s election process to restore the integrity of and trust in elections.

The Voting Rights Protection Act (House Bill 1300) was unveiled on June 10.

“House Republicans have consistently paved the way to more accessible, secure, and accurate elections,” Speaker Bryan Cutler (R – Lancaster) said. “Our caucus ensured the state tracked the impacts of our evolving election law in 2019 and 2020, and today we see those efforts brought to fruition in this important and thorough legislation by Chairman Grove. Pennsylvanians must have faith in their elections and this bill is another piece of restoring the public’s trust.”

The bill would allow for early in-person voting beginning in 2025 in order to increase voter access. According to the press release, it would correct “non-fatal defects on mail-in ballots” such as unsigned or undated ballots. It would also give counties the option to use secure mail-in ballot drop boxes during specific times and at secure locations, as well as, increase access for voters with disabilities.

“Not only will I veto any legislative efforts to roll back freedoms Pennsylvanians right now have, I will continue to push for changes that expand our access to the polls,” Governor Tom Wolf said on June 9 prior to the unveiling the next day.

Governor Wolf has threatened to veto anything that increases barriers to voting that are in this bill.

“This responsible bill includes all aspects of issues brought before the committee and will propel Pennsylvania’s election into the 21st century, all while fixing fatal flaws and election security issues,” Grove said. “Pennsylvania must be a leader in secure elections, which are also accessible to all legal votes.”

According to the press release, the new act would tighten security by expanding upon Pennsylvania’s current voter identification law, require regular audits, improve election uniformity among the 67 counties, enhance certification processes for all machines used in elections, require signature verification using ballot scanning equipment for mail0in and absentee ballots, improve lists of registered voters and more.

All county election board websites would also be required to use a .gov domain address to ensure voters can trust official election office websites in a cost-effective manner.

Democrats in the legislature, however, have said a complete overhaul is not needed. Rather, they believe they just need to pass the early processing of mail-in ballots and give counties more money to fund elections.

The Voting Rights Protection Act now goes to the House State Government Committee for consideration.

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