HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives approved the Voting Rights Protection Act (House Bill 1300), its co-sponsor Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Lycoming) said.
“Advancing this bill to the Senate was a major step in rectifying mistakes put into the election code by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Department of State,” Wheeland said. “This bill is the result of 10 hearings conducted by the House State Government Committee, which I proudly serve on. During the hearings, we heard from a multitude of stakeholders, including county election officials, on ways in which we must fix our elections.”
The Voting Rights Protection Act would expand Pennsylvania’s voter identification law and require signature verification using ballot scanning equipment for mail-in and absentee ballots. In addition, it 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.
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. The bill also increases access for voters with disabilities.
“As a former county commissioner, I have witnessed firsthand the hard work election staff puts in each and every election,” Wheeland said. “We must do more to assist counties that have seen a large increase in work due to new voting options this past election cycle.”