Wolf to Veto Pennsylvania Poll Watcher Legislation

A Pennsylvania Senate bill to allow a voter to act as a poll watcher outside of his or her own county passed the state House of Representatives this week, though Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said he will veto it.

Sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg), the “Poll Watcher Empowerment Act” received the support of every Republican and no Democratic representative. When it passed the Senate earlier this month, every Republican voted for it and every Democrat voted against it except for Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem).

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Pennsylvania House Committee Passes Bills to Move Presidential Primary, Allow Out-of-County Poll Watchers

Pennsylvania’s House State Government Committee on Wednesday passed a Senate bill to move the state’s presidential primary date and another measure to allow out-of-county poll watchers. 

The first of the two bills was sponsored by Sen. John Gordner (R-Bloomsburg) and passed his chamber unanimously last December. And yet only two of the House panel’s 10 Democrats, Kristine Howard (D-Malvern) and Ben Sanchez (D-Abington), backed the legislation during Wednesday’s vote. 

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Grove Proposes Bill to Address Future Pennsylvania Election Complaints

State Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York) told legislative colleagues on Monday that he will introduce a measure to ease the process by which Pennsylvanians can report voter fraud and other election-related problems. 

The bill would require the Pennsylvania secretary of state to establish a 1-800 hotline that voters could call to note any alleged misconduct they encounter in the course of an election. The secretary would also need to host annual training sessions for county-level prosecutors on the commonwealth’s election rules. 

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Rep. Grove Rebukes Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s ‘Voter Intimidation’ Claims

Pennsylvania Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) castigated the state’s Democratic acting secretary of the commonwealth on Saturday for suggesting that stationing Lehigh County detectives at ballot drop boxes will amount to “voter intimidation.”

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman last week said that tactics to intimidate voters have “a long history in this country” and that “the mere presence of police at a ballot drop box can deter voters from casting their ballot.” She also mentioned that she has been in conversation with her staff about attempting to dissuade Lehigh County from assigning law-enforcement professionals to watch drop boxes into which absentee voters may place their ballots.

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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Touts SAFE Act in Light of Court Ruling on Illegal Voting

Citing a recent federal court ruling, a Pennsylvania lawmaker is touting legislation to require those registering to vote in the Keystone State to demonstrate U.S. citizenship.

In late March, District Court Judge Christopher Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that the commonwealth must disclose documentation regarding problems in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) record-keeping system. Conner’s opinion recalled that, in 2017, the state acknowledged that PennDOT errors “permitted non-United States citizens applying for or renewing a driver’s license to register to vote in the Commonwealth.”

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Arizona Attorney General’s Report Recommends Election Reforms Similar to Those Sought in Pennsylvania

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) released a report this week on elections in his state—focusing especially on Maricopa County—advocating similar election reforms to those Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers currently seek.

While the report did not make criminal allegations regarding recent elections, it did declare that Arizona’s election system suffers from major procedural vulnerabilities including insufficient time to confirm signatures on ballots submitted during early voting and problems with the chain of custody for ballots placed in drop boxes. Altogether, the attorney general estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 early ballots were transported without proper protocol being followed.

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Pennsylvania Senate Panel Votes to Implement Changes to Improve Voter Records

Ryan Aument

A committee of the GOP-run Pennsylvania Senate voted Wednesday to change the state’s voter-records system as recommended by a Democratic former state auditor general.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lititz), passed the State Government Committee seven to four, with all Republicans and no Democrats backing the measure.

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GOP Philadelphia City Commissioner Opposes Restricting Third-Party Election Grants

Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill and Lisa Baker

At a Pennsylvania Senate hearing Tuesday, Republican Philadelphia City Commissioner Seth Bluestein joined his two Democratic colleagues in supporting continued allowance of private grants for election administration.

Left-wing nonprofits, particularly the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), awarded many such grants to election offices in Pennsylvania and across America in 2020. The organization received $350 million that year from Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

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Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Denies That Ballot Harvesting Occurred

A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania administrator this week responded to the local Republican Party’s allegations of “ballot harvesting,” insisting that video surveillance does not show that it occurred.

As The Pennsylvania Daily Star reported, Montgomery County Republican Committee (MCRC) Chair Liz Preate Havey addressed the county Board of Commissioners last Thursday regarding numerous election-integrity concerns. She mentioned video footage of a woman depositing handfuls of ballots into a drop box in Upper Dublin Township in the run-up to the 2021 general election. Such drop boxes have been in use in Pennsylvania for absentee-ballot delivery since 2020. 

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Pennsylvania House Committee Passes Bills to Reform Redistricting and Elections, Democrats Demur

Seth Grove

Yesterday, a Pennsylvania House of Representatives panel passed a series of redistricting and election reforms, including a bill establishing a citizens’ commission for redrawing legislative districts.

The redistricting bill, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York), chair of the House State Government Committee which vetted the measure, would ditch the current process for creating legislative-district maps. Such maps are drawn anew every decade in response to population shifts revealed by the U.S. Census. Presently, a five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), made up of Republican and Democratic leaders from both state-legislative chambers and chaired by an appointee of the state Supreme Court, oversees district remapping.

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Pennsylvania Democrats Recall January 6 to Push Legislative Agenda, Slam Election Integrity Legislation

Yesterday, Democrats in Pennsylvania and beyond recalled the Jan. 6, 2021 D.C-Capitol riot as an occasion to denounce voter-ID proposals and urge progressive reforms.

“Here’s the truth,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told an online audience at a panel hosted by leftist organizations including Better PA and the New Pennsylvania Project. “You can draw a straight line between the lies [and former President Donald Trump’s post-2020-election] litigation to the events of January the sixth. And now, you can continue that straight line to voter-suppression laws that are being passed by Republicans in state houses across the country.”

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Pennsylvania Bill to Restrict Private Money in Election Administration Passes House

Republican legislation to stop private organizations from donating selectively to Pennsylvania localities’ election activities passed the state House of Representatives along party lines yesterday. 

State Reps. Eric Nelson (R-Greensburg), Clint Owlett (R-Wellsboro) and James Struzzi (R-Indiana) offered the bill after revelations that the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) issued grants to counties last year, with much more money reaching Democrat-heavy areas. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan contributed $350 million to CTCL in 2020. Former Obama Foundation Fellow Tiana Epps-Johnson serves as the organization’s executive director.

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Bill to Require Post-Election Audits in Pennsylvania Advances with Support of Philadelphia Democrat

State Rep. Regina Young (D-PA-Philadelphia) voted with all Republican House State Government Committee members this week in favor of a bill to require post-election audits. 

The legislation to verify the accuracy of election outcomes will thus go before the full Pennsylvania House with at least a modicum of bipartisanship, making it more difficult for Democrats to call the bill merely “a reactionary thing being done because of the last election,” as Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) did at the committee meeting.

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