HARRISBURG – The state Senate this week approved legislation, 35-14, that will bring the most comprehensive changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws in more than eight decades, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), who said the modernizations will make it easier for all residents to take part in elections.
Senate Bill 421 will also provide $90 million in much-needed funding to replace county voting machines, boosting election security and ensuring that local taxpayers did not have to pick up the tab for the required upgrades.
“These changes will promote a stronger system in which every voter can be certain that their vote counts, without creating any unnecessary delays for state residents to exercise their right to vote” Sen. Yaw said. “It will also provide needed funding to reimburse counties who have purchased new voting machines, an important issue I have heard about across my Senate District.”
Other provisions in the bill would:
- 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.
- Create a permanent mail-in voter list.
Yaw noted that the bill also eliminates antiquated straight-party voting, something that 40 states have already done. The bill now heads to Governor Tom Wolf, who is expected to sign the measure.
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff