HARRISBURG – Working to ensure integrity in elections statewide, Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Bradford/Tioga/Potter) joined members of the House State Government Committee Tuesday in voting to approve the Voting Rights Protection Act.
“After a series of 10 very detailed hearings that looked at every aspect of administering elections in the Commonwealth, from voter registration to counting ballots and everything in between, our committee put together a bill that will make Pennsylvania a leader in both election security and accessibility,” Owlett said. “We owe it to our citizens, and to the county officials who work so hard to run our elections smoothly, to resolve the problems that have arisen in the last two elections. County officials deserve clarity and adequate time to do their jobs, and voters deserve to know their votes and the votes of all legal voters are being cast and counted fairly and uniformly.”
In comments made during the hearing, Owlett highlighted how the bill will address the lack of uniformity with regard to “outside” money that was granted to some counties and not others in the November 2020 election. Watch those comments here
The Voting Rights Protection Act would tighten security by expanding upon Pennsylvania’s current voter identification law, require regular election audits, improve election uniformity among the 67 counties as required by the Pennsylvania Constitution, enhance certification processes for all machines used in elections, require signature verification using ballot scanning equipment for mail-in and absentee ballots, improve lists of registered voters and more. Also, registered voters would receive through their counties a scannable and durable voter registration card, much like the identification cards currently issued to voters, for use when voting in person.
To address issues raised by local election officials, the bill would allow earlier counting of mail-in ballots, moving it from no earlier than 7 a.m. on Election Day to five days before Election Day. It would also move the last day to register to vote back to 30 days prior to an election, as it was before its recent shift to closer to elections to ensure adequate time for processing.
To increase voter access, the bill also allows for early in-person voting to begin in 2025; allows for correcting non-fatal defects on mail-in ballots, such as unsigned or undated ballots, which must be completed by 8 p.m. of Election Day; and gives counties the option to use secure mail-in ballot drop boxes during specific times and at secure locations.
House Bill 1300
now goes to the full House for consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler