FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 8, 2020
Pre-canvassing for counties remains an important issue for election directors
HARRISBURG, Pa. – VoteSafe Pennsylvania today urged lawmakers and the administration to continue negotiations on an election reform package that would give election directors the tools they need to address the challenges of administering the November election during an ongoing pandemic, when mail-in ballots are expected to reach record levels.
The House passed a measure (H.B. 2626) on Sept. 2 to keep negotiations on track to ensure important changes can be made and implemented in time before the general election, which is now fewer than 60 days away. The governor has concerns about some provisions in the wide-ranging bill and has threatened a veto unless the measure is amended. The Senate attempted to advance the bill through its State Government Committee last week, but issues with public notification requirements mean the committee has to take up the measure again today. It is unclear when the bill may be considered by the full Senate.
“There is still time for both sides to come together to negotiate a plan that works for Pennsylvania voters,” said former Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed, co-chairman of VoteSafe PA. “We saw historical bipartisan leadership from our commonwealth with the passage of Act 77 of 2019 before the pandemic and Act 12 of 2020 during the pandemic. These laws ushered in sweeping election reforms that have proven safe, secure and effective. If lawmakers and the governor could do it then, they can do it now.”
Among the key issues: The surge in mail-in ballots means it could take several days to process results. That is an understandable and acceptable reality. Elections aren’t about speed but accuracy, and it is important to ensure every vote counts. Due to the high volume of mail-in ballots expected in November, state lawmakers are considering provisions to allow counties to pre-canvass the ballots they receive. Pre-canvassing allows counties to open envelopes, flatten and stack the ballots, and then lock them up securely, so results can be determined more quickly once tabulation begins on Election Day.
The practice is fairly common. Among the states that allow mail-in voting, more than two dozen already allow election officials to begin the process of preparing the ballots for tabulation before Election Day because it can be done safely and securely.
“All eyes are on Pennsylvania at this critical juncture,” said former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who also served as Undersecretary and acting Secretary of the U.S. Army and is co-chairman of VoteSafe PA with Reed. “It is absolutely critical that lawmakers and the governor continue to work together to ensure that every voter feels protected and safe to participate in this age of COVID-19, and the men and women who carry out our elections have the tools they need to address these unique challenges.”
Several current and former elected officials, as well as nonprofit organizations, health-care professionals, community ambassadors, professional athletes and more, have joined VoteSafe PA, which launched in July,
to advocate for secure mail-in ballots and safe in-person voting sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All five of Pennsylvania’s former living governors have signed on to endorse the initiative.
About VoteSafe Pennsylvania
VoteSafe Pennsylvania is a bipartisan coalition comprised of community leaders, advocates, nonprofit organizations, former elected officials, and election experts who all want the same things—an efficient, accessible, secure mail-in ballot process and safe, in-person voting sites that ensure Pennsylvanians won’t have to risk their health for simply standing in line to vote. VoteSafe Pennsylvania is part of VoteSafe US, a national cross-partisan coalition of elections administrators and organizations that endorse the simple principle that every American has the right to vote safely amidst the pandemic. For more information, go to pa.votesafe.us.
Media Contact: Kurt Knaus