PA Senate approves legislation that would bring changes to state’s election laws

Opening Pennsylvania’s Primary Elections

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would bring changes to the state’s election laws.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 421, would make elections more convenient and accessible for voters, according to Gov. Tom Wolf, who expects to sign the bill in the coming days.

The bill allows voters to request and submit an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason, adds 15 additional days to register to vote while cutting the current registration blackout period before the election in half and creates a permanent mail-in voter list.

It also extends the deadline for voters to submit absentee or mail-in ballots from Friday before election to 8 p.m. on the day of the election and eliminates straight-party voting.

On top of that, the bill would also provide $90 million to replace county voting machines in order to boost election security and ensure local taxpayers do not have to pick up the tab for the required upgrades.

“This is a major advancement for elections in Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “While I understand the concerns about eliminating the straight party ticket option, this bipartisan bill creates the most significant improvements to our elections in more than 80 years. Pennsylvania has gone from collectively being the state least friendly to voters to a national leader in voting and election security reforms. It’s a giant leap forward that makes voting more convenient for millions of Pennsylvanians and improves our election security.”

He added, “To rebuild trust in our government, we need fair and accessible elections for all citizens from our rural communities to the big cities. Modernizing our elections removes barriers to the voting booth and will hopefully encourage more people to participate in our elections.”

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