Pennsylvania State House committee hears suggestions on improving election laws, but will the Legislature listen? | Julian Routh/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Good government stakeholders and national advocacy groups told lawmakers in Harrisburg on Thursday that incremental changes to the election law can alleviate the burden on stressed-out county workers and make it easier for voters to participate in the process. Their testimony came as the House State Government Committee finished its series of election oversight hearings, intended to give members a firsthand look at what might be needed to tweak the election code in the coming months and years. As Democrats continued to express fears that the Republican-led committee and Legislature will use the hearings to justify a crackdown on voting accessibility and mail-in ballots, a majority of those who testified agreed that changes to the law should be procedural and bipartisan. “As has been noted repeatedly in these hearings, the vast majority of Pennsylvania election law is still from the 1930s,” Committee of Seventy President and CEO David Thornburgh said in written testimony to the committee. “Revamping the entire Election Code may not be possible at this juncture, but the General Assembly has yet another opportunity to substantially modernize Pennsylvania election procedures, maintain election integrity, and improve the customer service experience of eligible voters.” The biggest consensus appeared to be that county election officials need more time to pre-canvass and process the influx of mail-in ballots, something that counties have been calling for since well before last November’s general election.