Elections (Archived)

State Senate panel unanimously approves ballot security legislation

The legislation would require counties to adopt specific safeguards for the transportation of ballots.

An official ballot box in Pittsburgh ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.

An official ballot box in Pittsburgh ahead of the 2020 presidential elections. Aaron Jackendoff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As the end of this legislative session nears, the Senate State Government Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve legislation that would strengthen security requirements for the transportation of ballots, marking what could be one of the last election-related bills that lawmakers approve prior to the November midterm elections. 

The legislation, House Bill 34, which is sponsored by Republican state Rep. Gary Day, outlines a set of “ballot security procedures” that counties must follow when transporting ballots that have been cast. 

Per the bill, ballots must be kept in a specific transportation container when they are not at a voting precinct or county election office. However, that requirement does not apply when ballots are in the custody of the U.S. Postal Service. 

Each container must also include a “bill of lading,” which will list the location, date and time of when the ballots were collected. The bill also grants poll watchers the right to know how many ballot containers exist in a given election. 

Day told the committee that HB 34 could help improve election security and reduce the likelihood of tampering. 

“We’re going to be adopting ballot security procedures so that ballots aren’t tampered with and that the ballots cast in an election will be secured in a transportation container, hopefully making the security of our election system better without making it any harder to vote,” Day said. 

After amending the bill with a few technical changes, the committee unanimously approved Day’s legislation. It was passed by the state House of Representatives in September by a vote of 202-0 and now awaits action from the full Senate. 

The committee also approved House Bill 2484, sponsored by GOP state Rep. Lori Mizgorski, which would require write-in candidates to file a statement of financial interest within 30 days of being elected or nominated. 

Write-in candidates that fail to do so within 30 days will be removed from the ballot under Mizgorski’s legislation. That bill also awaits a vote by Senate lawmakers.