Pennsylvania Board Releases Mail-in Voting Recommendations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Jan. 23, the Pennsylvania Election Law Advisory Board (ELAB) released an interim report recommending updates to Act 77, Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law. ELAB is a bipartisan board created under the Joint State Government Commission to study the implementation of Act 77. The recommendations are intended to address many of the issues and disputes that have plagued mail-in voting over the last two election cycles in the state.

The report recommends five updates to Pennsylvania law:

  • Change the name of the permanent mail-in voting lists to “annual” mail-in voting lists to better reflect the fact that voters on these lists still have to fill out a mail-in ballot application each year.
  • Extend the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot by mail or online from seven days prior to Election Day to between 12 and 15 days prior to Election Day.
  • Allow voters to return their mail-in ballots without a secrecy envelope.
  • Clarify that the date required on mail-in ballots is the date the voter signed the ballot and provide that failure to date ballots should not be the sole grounds to disqualify them.
  • Provide authority for counties to use drop boxes by law and establish minimum requirements for drop boxes.

Many of these recommendations target issues that were the subject of lawsuits and disputes in recent election cycles. Requiring voters to return their ballots in a secrecy envelope was used by former President Donald Trump’s campaign during litigation in 2020 and dates placed on the outer envelopes of mail-in ballots were extensively litigated last year. Additionally, many Pennsylvania counties were sued over their use of drop boxes, partially because they aren’t explicitly authorized under state law. These updates should bring more clarity to mail-in voting and alleviate future disputes.

However, it’s unclear if the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Senate will agree to reforms, given the fact that Republicans are actively engaged in litigation seeking to revoke Act 77 in its entirety.

Read the report’s recommendations here.

Read the full report here.