HARRISBURG – The House today advanced one of the most comprehensive voting improvement bills in the country when it approved the Voting Rights Protection Act (House Bill 1300
), its sponsor, House State Government Chairman Seth Grove (R-York), said.
“The Voting Rights Protection Act fixes saliant issues uncovered during months of hearings by the House State Government Committee on the election process,” Grove said. “Since 2016, our elections have been ripe with controversy with both sides claiming illegitimate results. The aim of this bill is not to take out the ability for anyone to question the results, but to rather modernize our elections and restore faith in the process.”
The Voting Rights Protection Act would increase voter participation by allowing for early in-person voting beginning in 2025; permits correcting non-fatal defects on mail-in ballots, which must be completed by 8 p.m. of Election Day; and would give counties the option to use secure mail-in ballot drop boxes during specific times and at secure locations. The bill also increases access for voters with disabilities.
To address issues raised by local election officials during the months-long series of hearings conducted by the committee, the bill would allow mail-in ballots to be counted before Election Day. The Voting Rights Protection Act would also move the last day to register to vote back to 30 days prior to an election, as requested by county election officials.
A recent poll by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster found a large majority of people, both Republicans and Democrats, polled support many of the initiatives in the bill, including the use of voter registration identification cards at the polls, as well as verifying voter’s signatures. According to the polls, 74% of those polled support voters having to show identification when voting in person and 81% are in favor of signature verification.
In addition to expanding Pennsylvania’s voter identification law and requiring signature verification using ballot scanning equipment for mail-in and absentee ballots, the Voting Rights Protection Act would also require regular election audits; enhance certification processes for all machines used in elections; improve lists of registered voters; conduct an audit of every election before results are certified. Specifically, registered voters would receive through their counties’ durable, scannable voter registration identification cards, much like the identification cards currently issued to voters, to be used when voting in person.
“I look forward to this bill quickly being taken up in the Senate, so voters will have more accessibility when casting ballots in even more secure elections,” Grove said. “No matter how voters cast ballots, they must have trust in the election process, know their votes were counted and that there was no interference.”
House Bill 1300 is now in the Senate for consideration.
Representative Seth Grove
Pennsylvania House of Representatives