PA House Dems stand with election officials to defend democracy, preserve voter access

Denounce legislative efforts to make voting difficult for Pennsylvanians

HARRISBURG, June 22 -- Pennsylvania House Democrats today voted against legislation that would make it more difficult for Pennsylvanians to vote, and members of the House Democratic Policy Committee and county executives shared their concerns.

Chairman Ryan Bizzarro called the bill a continued Republican attack on the voting process and democracy and a waste of time and resources, adding, “The 2020 election was safe and secure. Every voter who tried to vote for their dead mother was caught – and those were Republican voters. The current system is safe, secure and it works. We should be listening to the Republican and Democratic election officials statewide that asked for legislative fixes to address allowing them to securely process votes in an efficient manner with things like pre-canvassing and extended time for processing.”

“Our mandate as Americans is to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to vote. Our mandate as legislators is to make that as easy as possible for our families, friends, and neighbors,” explained state Rep. Pete Schweyer, D-Lehigh, who serves as a vice chair of the House Democratic Policy Committee. “This legislation does the opposite and anyone who voted for it should be ashamed to go home and look these people in the eye.”

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong said, “The counties have asked for more time to count votes and more time to collect votes. This bill takes away our ability to respond to our community, to meet their needs and burdens us with unreasonable and unnecessary work.”

Committee Vice Chair Mary Isaacson, D-Phila., specifically found the ballot box limitations abhorrent, explaining, “The arbitrary limit of one drop box per 100,000 residents which must be evenly distributed throughout the county is blatantly aimed at preventing access to urban populations like Philadelphia, why? Because they vote Democratic.”

“Our county had its safest, most secure election in history, and now the state wants to bankrupt us to pay for reports on reports followed by an audit and another report,” said Allegheny County Delegation Chairman Austin Davis.

“While the stated goal of H.B. 1300 is to improve elections, we already have ones that are fair and secure. Although the bill addresses some of the things that would help us better administer an election, the vast majority of its so-called ‘reforms’ are costly, extremely difficult to implement and underscore that the authors have never administered an election,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We should be thoughtful and deliberate in amendments to the Election Code and not rush to address perceived problems. I urge the General Assembly to take the time to understand how elections are run and to fully understand the unintended consequences of some of these provisions.”

Rep. Joe Ciresi of Montgomery County added, “House Bill 1300 is designed to remove voters from the registers plain and simple. From allowing blanket challenges to the validity of a person’s registration, to eliminating the permanent mail in ballot list, to signature verification with untested software, House Bill 1300 suppresses the vote.”

Bizzarro concluded, “Republicans have the majority in the Harrisburg. If they’re unhappy with the results of the 2020 election, maybe they should reconsider their approach under the dome, not try and silence millions of Pennsylvanians’ voices at the polls. Today’s vote was nothing short of an attack on voters’ rights and I am proud to stand in support of the veterans, seniors, differently abled and all those who need provisions in place that allow them to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”

House Bill 1300 passed the House by a vote of 110-91 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Additional information about House Democrats’ efforts to Defend Democracy can be found at www.pahouse.com/policy/defendingdemocracy.