The Pennsylvania State Senate said no to private funding for elections and no to drop boxes for future voting in the Commonwealth on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 982 stated that the cost and expense to State and local governments relating to the conduct of elections shall be funded only upon lawful appropriation of the Federal, State and local governments, and the source of funding shall be limited to money derived from taxes, fees and other sources of public revenue.
“Our legislation offers a direct, straight-forward clarification to the Pennsylvania Election Code,” state senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) said. “Senate Bill 982 simply states what all of us understood to be fact – government should pay for elections. Voters, taxpayers and citizens alike deserve the most fair and equitable election system. It should be uniform from one county to the next regardless of size, demographics, or wealth.”
The bill was approved by a 37-12 vote and now heads to the House for concurrence.
The Senate then turned to the issue of ballot drop boxes and SB 1200. It requires all mail-in ballots to be returned by mail or delivered in person to the county board of election primary office.
The bill – sponsored by Senators Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) – was approved by a 29-20 vote and now heads to the House for concurrence.
“Eliminating drop boxes that evidence shows are breeding grounds for suspicious activity will go a long way toward restoring the public’s confidence in our elections and results,” said Aument. “Our bill will require all ballots be returned to a single central location in each county to streamline the process, prevent tampering, and preserve a strict chain of custody.” said Aument.
“There’s no problem with drop boxes in Pennsylvania,” Sen. Steven Santarsiero (D-Bucks) says. “We’re here today because a handful of unsworn witnesses at a hastily convened committee meeting … came out and alleged that there was some issue with drop boxes. It will only make it harder for people to vote.”
“People have lost faith in the process,” said Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia). He says people have lost faith in the process because “we waste time on things like this. You’re right. They’ve lost faith.”
“A significant portion of our electorate has lost faith in our electoral process,” said Joe Pittman (R-Indiana). “The legislation is very simple, very direct. It ensures the integrity of the electoral process.”
Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) added that it is impractical for all citizens of Philadelphia to have to go to a single office to drop off a mail-in ballot.
“We have a Constitutional duty to safeguard our election process so every voter knows the results are fair and accurate. When voters don’t believe the process is impartial, then the entire system breaks down,” said Corman. “Getting private money out of our elections and eliminating the least secure method of voting should give all voters more faith in our election system.”