Pittsburgh, Pa. − March 15, 2021 − Senator Lindsey M. Williams (D-Allegheny) announced that she has been appointed to the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform by Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). This is a bipartisan, 9-member Committee appointed to evaluate Act 77 of 2019, the current law governing elections here in Pennsylvania, and the 2020 elections, with the goal of issuing concrete legislative recommendations to improve elections in the Commonwealth. You can read more about the Special Committee here.
The Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform held its first public hearing today to hear from elections officials from other states on best practices. The Committee heard testimony from officials from Colorado, Utah, and Florida on wide-ranging topics such as ballot drop boxes, the processes for curing minor ballot defects, secrecy envelopes, ballot tracking, and signature matching.
Following today’s hearing, which will be available for viewing on the Committee’s website, Senator Williams issued the following statement:
“Hearing testimony today reaffirmed that Pennsylvania still has work to do to update our election law. Testifiers spoke of the importance of pre-canvassing, which would allow election officials to begin processing ballots prior to Election Day. Pennsylvania’s flawed law prohibited our officials from opening ballots until the morning of Election Day, which led to delayed results. This delay resulted in mass disinformation and unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. We also heard about the importance of allowing voters to ‘cure’ their ballots when election officials find human errors, such as not signing their ballot or using a secrecy envelope. These measures should be implemented for security purposes, not to disenfranchise voters.
I’m looking forward to working with this Special Committee to address many of those deficiencies in Act 77 in a way that makes voting more accessible, more secure, and more uniform for all Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth. I voted against Act 77 because despite how immensely important election reform is, this bill was introduced as a ‘gut and replace’ amendment with less than a day’s notice for rank and file members like myself to read. The legislature held no public hearings on this massive change to our election law. And it was this flawed process that led to the litigation that not only cost Pennsylvania taxpayers millions of dollars, but that also gave disingenuous actors the opportunity to sow significant doubt in the security of our elections.
I wholeheartedly support the expansion of vote by mail and increased voter participation. These foundational principles of our democracy are too important to leave to last minute legislation.”
The Special Committee is asking voters to provide them with feedback on their experiences from the 2020 General Election by filling out a survey. This includes individuals who voted by mail or in person, as well as poll workers, County Election Officials, and individuals who chose not to participate. This feedback will be reviewed by the Special Committee during its analysis.