Pennsylvania House Passes Bill to Extend Pre-Canvassing Period

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team





In a contentious session, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill aimed at extending the pre-canvassing period for ballots, a practice known as pre-canvassing, which is currently not permitted in the state.

Advocates of pre-canvassing argue that allowing counties more time to prepare and process ballots before Election Day would lead to quicker election results. Presently, poll workers in Pennsylvania are prohibited from initiating the pre-canvassing process until 7 a.m. on Election Day.

Counting of ballots can only commence after the polls close at 8 p.m. and must continue until all ballots are tabulated.

The bill, which passed amidst opposition from 99 Republican lawmakers, proposes extending the pre-canvassing window to seven days before the election. Critics of the bill express concerns that this extension could delay election results for several days and erode public trust in the electoral process.

Rep. Brad Roae, one of the bill’s opponents, highlighted the potential for further delays if counties choose to postpone dealing with mail-in ballots until after Election Day. He emphasized the importance of ensuring timely and conclusive election outcomes to uphold the integrity of the democratic process.

However, proponents of the legislation, such as Rep. Steve Samuelson, contend that granting counties additional time for ballot processing is crucial for expediting the electoral process. They argue that this approach aligns with the practical needs expressed by county officials to enhance efficiency and accuracy in ballot tabulation.

During a budget hearing in March, State Secretary Al Schmidt emphasized the time-consuming nature of ballot processing, noting the challenges faced by poll workers in handling the volume of ballots within the existing timeframe.

He underscored the significance of providing counties with adequate resources and support to mitigate errors and streamline the electoral process.

The passage of this bill reflects ongoing efforts to address logistical challenges and modernize election procedures in Pennsylvania, with a focus on ensuring fair, transparent, and timely election outcomes.

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