WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the 2020 elections, Pennsylvania was in the spotlight after the country anxiously waited for us to finish counting the ballots. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is hoping in the next elections, Pennsylvania can start counting early votes before election day. While this idea of having a more effective early voting counting system is shared by Pennsylvania state Republican lawmakers, not everyone is on board with how state lawmakers want to modify election laws.
“It’s essential to our democracy,” said Sen. Casey.
After the 2020 general election when Pennsylvania was put in the national spotlight because it took days to finish counting their early or absentee votes after election day, Casey said this year he hopes Pennsylvania will join other states like Florida to count early or absentee votes before election day.
“Then you remove that drama so that you won’t have votes being counted on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and let them get a head start counting those absentee or mail in votes,” said Casey. “Then you have that work done before the polls close then you can just count the election day votes.”
“I think it’s very important that states maintain their roles and actually establishing election laws,” said PA state Representative Seth Grove (R- York). Grove, who chairs the influential House State Government Committee, said part of election reform they’re hoping for is to allow counties to pre-canvass ballots, which involves removing mail-in ballots from their envelopes, checking them for eligibility and preparing them to be scanned.
“We did amend the current bill that’s on the bill to require counties start counting any ballots that’s received prior to election day has to be counted by I think 9 p.m.,” said Grove. “So they allow them opening, they’re already to go for the tabulation machines. So we’d have the bulk of the counting done on election night with a few things coming in.”
So although there’s some common ground on early voting, this pre-canvassing proposal is part of a massive state election bill that state Democratic lawmakers have been strongly against. They said components of this bill proposed by Republicans would make it harder to vote because it shortens deadlines to apply to register to vote, apply for absentee ballots and when people can submit a mail in ballot. But Republicans argue the bill would modernize election laws, increase security and argue it would increase access.
“We have a long way to go to modernize those laws,” said Grove.
We asked Representative Grove if he would be open to just passing that pre-canvassing proposal as a standalone bill, but he told us other comprehensive issues need to also be addressed.