HARRISBURG, Pa. — Governor Tom Wolf urged the legislature to pass his safe and secure elections proposal unveiled Thursday. His proposal expands on voting reform passed by both democrats and republicans that expanded voting access with mail-in ballots and early voting.
"Our democracy depends on people voting," said Gov. Wolf. "There are changes the can be made to make a good system better.
The proposal includes:
- Allowing counties to start pre-canvassing ballots 21 days before the election rather than at 7 a.m. election day to make vote counting faster. Pre-canvassing involves counties scanning and verifying the ballot envelope, matching the voter’s signature to voter rolls, opening the mail and secrecy envelopes, and removing and scanning the ballot. Counties would not tabulate or report vote totals until polls close at 8 p.m. on election day.
- Allowing counties to count eligible ballots postmarked by election day and received by the Friday following election day to ensure that all ballots mailed by the deadline are counted.
- Requiring counties to start sending mail-in ballots at least 28 days before the election rather than 14 days as currently required. The change ensures voters who apply early will have at least four weeks to receive and return their ballot.
- Providing counties flexibility to appoint poll workers to vacant positions earlier than five days before an election. More poll workers are still needed, and the Department of State is encouraging businesses, colleges and organizations to reach out to their county elections office and volunteer at their local precincts.
In response to the governor's plan, State House Republican Caucus Spokesperson Jason Gottesman said, "When the House of Representatives returns to session next week, we will consider legislation crafted using the Department of State’s report from that primary election that provides more options to voters to cast their ballots, enhances the security of the voting process, and maintains the integrity of our elections while ensuring accurate results are reported in a timely manner. While we agree that changes must be made to our Election Code following the primary, it was the governor’s team who walked away from substantive discussions on reaching agreement on a bill only to seek their politically-motivated changes in the courts and making an end-run around the Constitutional prerogative of the General Assembly to determine the time, place, and manner of elections. As the House and Senate work together to advance needed changes to our election process that benefit the people of Pennsylvania —not the DNC or the Biden campaign—it is up to the governor to determine whether he will put political motivation aside and work with us, instead of against us, in reaching our shared goals.”
The General Assembly is back in session next week.