Automatic mail-in ballot legislation to be introduced

Proposed bill would send ballots to voters 60 days before an election

PITTSBURGH, April 15 – In the midst of a pandemic that has infected more than 25,000 Pennsylvanians and continues to spread rapidly, allowing registered voters to safely cast their ballots is quickly becoming a critical issue as states begin to head to the polls. In Pennsylvania, state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, has moved to introduce legislation that would automatically send mail-in ballots to the homes of registered voters, allowing them to avoid potentially crowded public polling areas.

“As we make our way through this public health crisis, we need to be looking at options to keep people apart as much as possible,” Gainey said. “Last week in Wisconsin we saw the dangers of allowing an election to proceed as business as usual – long lines, uneven protection measures and no small amount of chaos.

“Extending the legislation that we passed last year to provide all registered voters with a mail-in ballot prior to an election would ensure that all Pennsylvanians can exercise their rights without fear of contracting or spreading this virus,” Gainey continued. “We don’t know what will happen this fall, if the virus will come back or what. But we need to take steps now to ensure that our election proceeds smoothly and safely.”

Gainey’s proposed legislation would:

  • Remove the requirement for registered voters to apply for mail-in ballots.
  • Provide for the automatic issuance of mail-in ballots to all registered voters 60 days before a scheduled election.
  • Provide voters the option of either voting by mail or voting in-person.

Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — conduct elections almost entirely by mail. Election experts and voting rights advocates are urging other states to switch as much as is possible to voting by mail for the November election.