Kinsey voter intimidation penalties bill approved by Judiciary Committee

HARRISBURG, March 26 – Today, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee approved legislation (H.B. 461) introduced by state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., that would provide enhanced penalties for individuals who intimidate others at a polling place.

Pennsylvania law makes polling place intimidation a criminal offense that can lead to a misdemeanor or felony conviction, depending on the circumstances. In addition to requiring a higher burden of proof and a burdensome amount of time and money, a criminal conviction may not lead to the restoration of justice for the person whose right to vote has been violated.

Kinsey’s bill would allow a person aggrieved by an individual convicted of polling place intimidation to bring civil action and recover punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, and other legal costs.  

“Voting is a fundamental right all Americans have, and when folks go to a polling place to make their voice heard, they deserve to do so in peace without being harassed,” Kinsey said. “This legislation would bring justice to those who try to intimidate, harass, or bother others at the polls.”

This legislation now moves to the full House for future consideration.