Conklin reintroduces pre-canvassing legislation

Would allow pre-canvassing of ballots up to seven days before election

HARRISBURG, April 10 – Today, state Rep. Scott Conklin, majority chairman of the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee, announced the reintroduction of his pre-canvassing legislation, H.B. 847. The reintroduced legislation would allow pre-canvassing of ballots up to seven days prior to Election Day, among other improvements to the election process. 

Under current law, pre-canvassing of absentee and mail-in ballots cannot begin until 7 a.m. on Election Day. “Pre-canvass” is defined in the Election Code as the inspection and opening of all envelopes containing official absentee ballots or mail-in ballots; the removal of such ballots from the envelopes; and the counting, computing and tallying of the votes reflected on the ballots. It does not include the recording or publishing of the votes reflected on the ballots. 

“With more and more people voting by mail-in ballot, tabulating ballots and releasing election results is taking county boards of elections much longer,” Conklin said. “In House State Government Committee hearings we heard from numerous experts, including county election officials from both parties, who testified that our state should allow counties to pre-canvass mail and absentee ballots much earlier than the morning of the election. Many believe that delays in tabulating election returns can lead to voter suspicion and unfounded conspiracies.” 

Bipartisan support has been growing for the legislation, with groups like Business for America conducting an outreach and advocacy campaign to encourage legislative leaders to prioritize passing pre-canvassing legislation prior to the next presidential election.  

Philadelphia’s Republican City Commissioner Seth Bluestein came out in support of the proposal, stating, “I wholeheartedly support Representative Conklin's pre-canvassing legislation. It is imperative that we join forces, transcending party lines, to guarantee a seamless and effective electoral process for every Pennsylvanian.

"By empowering counties to pre-canvass mail ballots, we not only expedite the vote-counting procedure but also foster transparency, mitigate the risk of misinformation and ultimately fortify the public's confidence in our democratic system. Pennsylvania needs these reforms to position the commonwealth as a beacon of election integrity for the entire nation." 

Conklin’s pre-canvassing legislation is also designed to increase election security and flexibility ahead of Election Day. At the request of county commissioners, this legislation would also increase transparency for viewing the pre-canvass and canvass of ballots. Finally, the bill would require the county boards to notify electors who had minor defects with ballots so that they can be corrected prior to Election Day.