Pennsylvania operates two election methods during every election: in-person voting and mail-in voting. While in-person voting went smoothly this past election, issues with mail-in voting still plague the Commonwealth. Prior to Election Day, we saw counties send out ballots and instructions which were inaccurate.
Indiana County, for example, sent wrong ballot return information, forcing the county to send a correction. The corrective mailing had an error and Indiana County had to send a second correction all at the taxpayers’ expense. Berks County sent Spanish-language voters ballot return instructions with the wrong deadline. Delaware County mailed 670 misprinted ballots. Montogomery County misprinted 16,000 ballots, which needed to be sequestered and verified, adding to delayed and non-transparent election results.
To make matters worse, Gov. Tom Wolf admitted on KDKA radio that he gave his mail-in ballot to his wife so that she could drop it off for him. This is a violation of the election law signed by the governor and a misdemeanor carrying a maximum $2,500 fine and/or two years in jail. It’s a serious crime and should be taken seriously. This was a direct result of York County not having election officials posted at its drop box in the County Administration Center lobby. By having election workers present, counties can provide election integrity to prevent election law violations and assist voters. But instead of using best practices for elections, York County, like many counties, failed to provide the correct policies to prevent ballot harvesting. Further, election law requires the county to set aside any ballot which is handed in by someone other than the voter. Through its lackadaisical election administration policies, York County and other counties, are allowing illegal votes to be submitted and officially counted.
We have serious election policy issues in Pennsylvania. We still have counties operating elections differently, violating the constitutional requirement for uniform election and voter registration laws. We still have gaping internal control failures allowing election fraud to occur in the Commonwealth.
These issues can be resolved, and Republicans are committed to fixing them. The General Assembly passed House Bill 1300
, the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act, this past June. The goal of this comprehensive election legislation was to ensure that we give every legal voter the ability to fully access our election system, to ensure every step of our election system is rooted in integrity, and to modernize an old and chaotic election law.
Gov. Wolf vetoed this legislation, which ironically would have permitted voters to return the ballots of other members of their household, ensuring that he and the first lady wouldn’t have run afoul of the election law. In September, I reintroduced and moved out of the House State Government Committee House Bill 1800
, an update of the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act, after the governor signaled this past summer that he is willing to work on comprehensive voter identification policies.
Hopefully the governor’s personal experience with violating the election law will drive him to actually negotiate and provide the updates that Pennsylvania’s election system desperately requires.
Representative Seth Grove
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross