Op-ed: Election Reform – Let the People Decide

By Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33)

Together with Senator Pat Stefano, I am introducing legislation to repeal Act 77.

Simply put, you will decide if the voting reforms as altered by the PA Supreme Court and the Wolf Administration should remain in place via a constitutional amendment referendum.

Act 77, in its original form, was the comprehensive voting reform package passed by the General Assembly in 2019.  The bill passed with unanimous Republican support and almost unanimous democrat opposition.

There were no red flags as evidenced that every Republican in the Senate supported it, even those of us who are routinely a “no” vote on anything that could undermine our freedoms.  And the near unanimous Democrat opposition to this bill highlights that in its original form, there was no insidious risk.

Unfortunately, the PA Supreme Court, Secretary Boockvar, and the governor had other ambitions.

Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretense, the Wolf Administration, together with activists on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, rewrote Act 77 to compromise our election.

Existing law was clear and specific:

  • All mail-in ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day;
  • Officials at polling locations must authenticate the signatures of voters;
  • County Boards of Elections are able to conduct pre-canvassing of absentee and mail-in ballots after 8 a.m. on Election Day;
  • Defective absentee and mail-in ballots shall not be counted; and
  • “Watchers” selected by candidates and political parties are permitted to observe the process of canvassing absentee and mail-in ballots.

The state Supreme Court unilaterally – and in direct contravention of the wording of Act 77 – extended the deadline for mailed ballots to be received from Election Day, to three days after the Election Day.

Similarly, the court declared that ballots mailed without a postmark should be presumed to have been received on time. The court also mandated that mail-in ballots lacking a verified signature be accepted.

Additionally, the State Department encouraged certain counties to notify party and candidate representatives of mail-in voters whose ballots contained disqualifying defects; thereby enabling voters to cure said defects.

Millions of voters around our state have expressed skepticism about the security of our elections going forward. Some have asked: “Why should I even vote if my vote will be cancelled out by another that is not legal”?

As the governor will certainly veto any legislation to correct the damages done to our voting laws, the best course of action is to introduce several questions on ballot referendum to repeal Act 77.

Let the people decide.