Bizzarro, House Dems urge action on clean pre-canvassing legislation

This would allow for earlier preparation of mail-in, absentee ballots

HARRISBURG, Sept. 13 – With just seven legislative session days left before the General Election on November 8, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) and other House Democrats are calling on Harrisburg’s Republican leaders to pass a clean pre-canvassing bill.

Currently, counties cannot begin preparing mail-in and absentee ballots for counting, known as pre-canvassing, until 7 a.m. on Election Day. The effects of this current law were seen in November 2020, and again in May 2022, when voters waited several days to learn the results of certain races while mail-in and absentee ballots were being processed. Allowing counties to pre-canvass ballots earlier would mean faster vote counts and results.

“Most of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, whether they are controlled by both Democrats or Republicans, have asked the legislature to give them more time to prepare mail-in and absentee ballots for counting,” said Bizzarro. “It’s time we provide counties with what they need and pass a clean pre-canvassing bill. We can take action to avoid being the subject of the national news because of the unwillingness of Republican leadership in the General Assembly.”

Several House Democrats have introduced standalone legislation that would allow counties to pre-canvass mail-in and absentee ballots earlier. These have been referred to the House State Government Committee but have been held up thanks to Harrisburg Republican leadership. The lack of immediate results has been used to sew doubt in the state’s elections, but the answer to the problem is clear.

“This shouldn’t be a controversial issue, but Republican leaders in Harrisburg refuse to bring up pre-canvassing unless it’s tied to other legislation that divides the House,” said House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia). “It’s unamerican and undemocratic to make voters wait days to know who they elected. Let’s fix this glaring issue and pass a clean pre-canvassing bill.”

Additionally, House Democrats have proposed bills that make it easier to register, make access to the polls more convenient for everyone, and make it easier for the people to have their voices heard in every election. Those proposals can be found here.

The full press conference can be viewed here.