Senate Approves Comprehensive Modernizations to State Election Laws

HARRISBURG – The State Senate today approved legislation that will bring the most comprehensive changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws in more than eight decades, according to Senators Ryan Aument (R-36) and Scott Martin (R-13), who said that the modernizations will make it easier for all residents to take part in the election process.

Senate Bill 421 will provide $90 million in much-needed funding to replace outdated county voting machines, ensuring that counties are not stuck with the entire tab for the required upgrade, which is intended to boost election security.

Additionally, the bill eliminates the antiquated practice of straight-party voting, something that 40 states have already done. This will encourage voters to consider individual candidates based on merit (not solely on their political affiliation), empower third-party and independent candidates, and diminish the impact of political polarization in our elections.

Among its provisions, the bill would also:

  • Extend the deadline for voters to submit an absentee ballot, from the Friday before Election Day until 8 p.m. on Election Day,
  • Push back the voter registration deadline from 30 days before an election to 15 days,
  • Allow voters to request and submit an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason, and
  • Create a permanent mail-in voter list.

The Lancaster County Senators said these changes will promote a stronger system in which every voter can be certain that their vote counts, without creating any unnecessary delays or barriers for state residents to exercise their right to vote.

“One of the biggest priorities for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is ensuring a system of elections that is fair, accessible, and efficient,” said Senator Aument. “This bill does that, while shielding county taxpayers from the cost of upgrading voting machines.”

“These changes will achieve a goal shared by all parties – helping more people participate in our elections to pick the individuals who will represent them at every level of government,” Martin said. “The result of these modernizations will be an election system that is more efficient and accessible for all voters.” 

Senate Bill 421 will now be sent to the Governor for his signature.

CONTACT:   Ryan Boop (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument)

                        Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Senator Martin)

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