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Pre-Canvassing Measure Heads to PA Senate After Passing House

Legislation that would allow Pennsylvania county boards of election to begin pre-canvassing up to seven days prior to Election Day has passed another hurdle.

A party-line vote of 102-99 in the House sends H.B. 847 to the state Senate for consideration of legislation that, if adopted by the upper chamber and signed by the governor, would take effect in time for the 2024 general election.

Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre), the bill’s main sponsor, said an earlier start to pre-canvassing – which involves inspecting and opening envelopes containing ballots; removing them from the envelopes; and counting, computing and tallying the votes (but not reporting or publishing those votes) – is needed to address delays and frustration arising under the current law, which does not permit election workers to start the process until 7 a.m. on Election Day.

“Free and fair elections are at the very heart of our democracy, but ensuring that they run smoothly and efficiently requires vigilance – and sometimes action – on our part when changing circumstances demand it,” Conklin said. “Five years ago, Pennsylvania expanded the use of mail and absentee ballots, resulting in a dramatic increase in these ballots. It was a great move that increased voter participation, but it also created some unwanted administrative issues.

“As mail ballots have increased, county election board workers from all over the state have been telling us that the current system is unworkable and that they simply don’t have enough time to process these ballots. The resulting delays in tabulating returns can prevent a timely and efficient vote count and – even worse – foment voter mistrust and unfounded conspiracies.

“This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It’s a logistical issue that is within our power to fix. Today, by passing my bill to extend time for pre-canvassing, we took a major step toward fixing those issues and making the system work as it was intended.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro applauded the vote and called upon the Senate to quickly take up the bill.

“Republican and Democratic county election officials have been calling on the Legislature to allow pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots for years — and I’m glad to see the House take this commonsense step today,” said Shapiro.

“I hope the Senate will follow suit and send this simple, bipartisan reform to improve our elections to my desk so I can sign it into law.”

House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) faulted the legislation for not including more of, what he called, what Pennsylvanians want.

“House Democrats pushing this bill forward today may make government easier for government, but it does not respond to what the vast majority of Pennsylvanians believe is needed to make our elections better and more secure,” Cutler said.

“House Democrats continue to abandon popular, commonsense and easy-to-implement reforms in search of their pre-canvassing “White Whale” that ranks amongst the least supported election reforms. Polling in April showed requiring identification each time a person votes is not only widely supported but is broadly believed to be a commonsense election reform that will increase confidence in the conduct of Pennsylvania’s elections. Signature verification, according to recent polling, is one of the most universally supported election reforms and mirrors in-person election day practices.”

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) issued a statement of support for the bill, calling the need to provide counties the expanded ability to pre-canvass mail-in and absentee ballots a “top priority for counties, especially ahead of what is expected to be a closely watched 2024 presidential election year.”

One Response

  1. The Republicans as usual are opposed to “Pre-Canvassing,” No Excuse Mail-In Ballots even though back in 2020, they passed a law, Act 77 that allowed for Early In Person Voting as well as No Excuse, Mail-In Ballots and Drop Boxes, all in exchange for elimination of straight Party Line Voting. Funds have also been allotted from Both Federal and State for the purchase of new, paper verified, electronic as well as electronic voting machines. Some foundations and corporations have also donated funds for improving and protecting election integrity, which Republicans objected to so they initiated & helped pass Act 88, the Election Protection Integrity Grant Program Act. But some Republican Control Counties in PA are now objecting to the Act 88 Grant Program because it imposes “burdensome regulations” on them such as reporting on how they spent the money 45 and 90 days after receiving. It also requires counties to keep their tabulation operations open 24-7 until the Vote Count is certified. If pre-canvassing was aloud, the results could be reported to the public faster and more arcuately then exit polling data from the media. These funds can and have been used to pay for overtime for Polling Workers, Election Security such as alarms, Closed Circuit TV Cameras (CCTV), overtime for Sheriffs picking up or guarding drop boxes, storage of scanned ballots at warehouses, paper for printing ballots, scanners at the Polls & new voting machines for people with disabilities, postage to mail ballots & applications for Mail-In Ballots to Voters, also for hiring temporary Election Poll Workers. But as usual, Republicans are opposed to any effort to make Elections run smoother, faster and protect the integrity of the vote. They would rather purge the Voter Rolls, combine Election Precincts at fewer Polling Locations, ban drop boxes or eliminate them, and sue to throw out Provisional or Mail-In Ballots with errors, ban any correction or curing of Mail-In Ballots, and do or say anything to suppress or discourage voter turnout. The Republican Party clearly hates democracy and voting. And if Trump wins by what ever means including violence, our democracy will end on Nov. 5, 2024. Unless the Republican Party and their registered Republicans come to their senses and patriotic duty, and denounce Trump, renounce Trumpism, accept the Election Results of the 2020 Election, and repair their broken Party, will never have a functioning democracy, based on a two party, “checks & balances” system. We will have an “unitary executive” style government with a one branch, one party system with a “President for Life,” who claims he has “a very excellent brain,” and who also claims that he is “a very stable genius.” He is a crook, worse than Richard Nixon. Trump needs to be defeated on Nov.5, 2024 by a massive popular vote, so that the antiquated, ineffective, inane, corrupt, Electoral College System votes for Joe Biden to be returned to the White House, and not the Republican Control House of Representatives, if Biden fails to win 270 votes from the Electoral College. Trump is unfit, unqualified and disqualified from seeking or holding any office based on his crimes an actions before, during or since his term in office. He has never won the popular vote and should be defeated overwhelmingly, convincingly and decisively by the popular vote on Nov.5, 2024. Vote Blue, no matter who.


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