The Lead

House passes legislation to cancel dead voters’ registrations, improve ballot security during transport

By: - September 21, 2022 4:29 pm

Photo illustration by Justin Grimes (Photo via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0).

The Republican-controlled state House gave its approval this week to bills requiring state election officials to remove people who have died from voter rolls and require county election officials to follow additional procedures to secure ballots being transported to and from polling places. 

Both bills passed the House unanimously and have been referred to the Senate State Government Committee.

Legislation sponsored  by Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, HB 143 requires the Department of State to cross-reference its statewide voter database with death record information from local registrars at least once a month.

If a voter’s first and last name, date of birth, and the last four digits of their Social Security number appear on a death record, the voter will be removed from the Statewide Uniform Registry of Voters. 

The bill would require the county election commissions to notify dead people by mail of their removal from voter rolls. It bars the removal of voters within 90 days of an election.

County election commissions would be required to investigate and update voter registration records when they receive notification from PennDOT that a person has changed the address for their driver’s license.

Individuals or organizations circulating absentee or mail-in ballot applications would be required to request and use up-to-date voter registration information from the Department of State.

The bill adds a new provision to permit voters who move to another state and who are not registered in their new state to vote once at their old polling place. In that case, a voter must file a signed declaration of their new address with the judge of elections. 

The bill would also expand the sources of information permissible to remove a person who has died from voter registration rolls.

Rep. Gary Day, R-Lehigh, is the prime sponsor of HB 34, which would add a new section to the Election Code to require county election officials to adopt security measures including transporting ballots in containers with numbered seals and bills of lading documenting the date, time, and location the ballots were collected and the number of the seal on the container.

It would also require county election boards to keep a record of who is responsible for ballot containers when they are moved. The bill would permit poll watchers to review documents regarding the handling of ballots.

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.