Martin Bills to Improve Election Process Approved by Senate Committee

(HARRISBURG) – Two bills sponsored by state Senator Scott Martin (R-13) designed to improve Pennsylvania election law were approved today by the Senate State Government Committee.

“It is important that we continue to take incremental steps to improve our elections,” Senator Martin said. “We must ensure that we reduce ballot confusion, reduce wasted ballot space and provide the opportunity for qualified interested candidates to hold public office. These bills do just that.”

 Senate Bill 56 will require successful write-in candidates to receive at least the same number of write-in votes as would be required if they had filed signed nomination petitions. The bill would weed out candidates who may lack interest or basic qualifications for office. The bill will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

“This bill sets reasonable standards for write-in candidates to ensure the people who are elected are qualified and truly want to serve,” Senator Martin said. “Choosing to write in a friend for public office as a joke or prank has resulted in unqualified or disinterested candidates winning elected office. In Lancaster County, the results have been nothing short of disastrous.”

Senate Bill 551 amends the Pennsylvania Constitution to eliminate a mandate that requires a separate ballot or a separate column on voting machines when voting for the retention of justices, judges and justices of the peace.

“It’s an antiquated requirement that makes voting for judges more complicated,” Senator Martin said. “Far too often, voters believe they are done voting and miss casting the ballot in the judicial races. Eliminating this requirement also will save taxpayers money.”

The bill goes to the full Senate for consideration. Because it is a constitutional amendment, it must pass both the House and the Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions before being put on the ballot for consideration by voters. The identical bill also was passed during the 2019-20 legislative session. The earliest voters could see the question on the ballot is the 2022 primary election.

Contact: Terry Trego

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