Last month, Committee of Seventy released a report outlining five areas of election reform needed to make Pennsylvania’s elections more free, fair, safe and secure: mail-in ballot pre-processing, mitigating mail-in ballot rejection, an earlier mail-in ballot application deadline, modernizing enhanced post-election audits, and strengthening rules for recount petitions.
Senate Bill 224, which was amended to address every reform Seventy advocated for in order to protect the 2024 presidential election, failed in the Pennsylvania House today. Complicating the bill’s passage were the addition of a voter ID requirement for all in-person voters and creation of a new Permanent Mail-in Voting List that would allow a registered voter to request to have a mail-in ballot delivered to them every election without needing to reapply. Each additional measure would be a significant shift in election policy.
Seventy supported the compromise package of election changes as a whole, imperfect though it was. With this bill’s failure, we risk not having a successfully administered and timely certified 2024 election. House Bill 1634, which changes the 2024 primary date to April 2 and avoids the conflict with Passover, did pass the House by a narrow margin but would have to be taken up by the Senate when that chamber returns on October 16.
At this point, our legislative leaders must communicate across the aisle and between the two chambers to determine what path, if any, is still viable to change the 2024 primary date and as quickly as possible to minimize strain on local election officials.