By Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
Through 10 hearings and countless hours of work, the House State Government Committee conducted a thorough, comprehensive and nonpartisan review of our state’s election law and concerns raised by those involved in the voting process. As a result, House Bill 1300
, The Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act was introduced by Chairman Seth Grove. Over the next several weeks I will take an in-depth look at House Bill 1300 and why I support it.
This week I will discuss safeguards in the bill to reinforce election integrity which include enhanced identification requirements and a more secure system for voting by mail. Voter ID is an issue that has been debated for many years. This bill requires a voter to show identification at the polling place. New forms of ID include: a county voter registration card, as well as, an ID issued by the secretary of the Commonwealth at NO COST to the elector who requests one, in addition to the many forms of ID now permitted by statute.
Mail-in balloting would require two forms of identification with three forms to choose from. They include the last four digits of the Social Security number, Pennsylvania drivers license number or voter registration number. Mail-in ballots could only be sent to the voter’s registered address or the address on the voter’s registration. Any ballot returned as undeliverable would trigger an investigation into the correctness of the elector’s registration.
There has been considerable controversy over ballot return locations or drop boxes. House Bill 1300 would require these locations to be in a fixed location, staffed by bipartisan judges of elections meeting the requirements of a polling place, identity verification, video recording and nightly securing of ballots. Ballot locations would be limited to one for each 100,000 residents of a county. These ballot locations could only be established seven days immediately prior to election when timely return of a ballot through the mail becomes less likely. Shouldn’t we require the same process for these ballots as we do for those voting on election day?
Currently, we require a voter to sign a mail-in ballot. This legislation strengthens the verification of signatures using new technology, AI-assistance, in matching signatures to the signature on the elector’s county records.
Pre-canvassing or opening of mail-in ballots, could begin five days before the election and is required to begin two days prior to the election. This would allow enough time to receive the results of mail-in ballots in a timely fashion. This would allow the secretary of State to certify the election within three days of receiving the results.
Next week I will explain how House Bill 1300 deals with expanded voter rights, protection and access.