Give Voters What They Want, Not What Politicians Think They Should Have

By Scott Seeborg

Pennsylvania’s Act 77, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2019, ushered in the most sweeping voting reforms in the state in nearly a century. As a result, record numbers of Pennsylvania voters were able to vote securely and safely through the use of ballot drop boxes and satellite voting offices during the 2020 election cycle. Voters used drop boxes and satellite offices at times convenient for them, contributing to a record high 71 percent turnout. In turn, the voters using these methods helped relieve pressure on Election Day voting lines and allowed for more efficient deployment of poll workers.

Unfortunately, high turnout and happy voters can make cynical politicians uneasy. Powerful forces trying to undermine democracy have waged unsuccessful litigation and legislative efforts to limit voters’ access to the ballot by attacking Act 77 under the unfounded claims that it is unconstitutional. All the while, these politicians spent more than $1 million in taxpayer funds on unsuccessful 2020 election lawsuits trying to suppress votes and roll back the use of satellite offices and drop boxes. They used bogus concerns over cost and security to make it harder to vote. These efforts are a direct attack on our democracy and the hundreds of thousands of voters who enjoyed a range of options to make their voices heard.

Here is the truth: tax dollars should be used on measures to expand access to voting — not on voting restrictions.

Lawmakers should also authorize officials to count ballots sooner so elections are certified on time. This would eliminate wasteful overtime spending for election workers forced to work around the clock and ensure ballots are scanned and processed faster.

Since the passage of Act 77, voting advocates and election officials have been working tirelessly to ensure its full implementation. Voters, in turn, have established familiarity and comfort with voting via drop box and satellite office. There is no good reason to suddenly cut the progress that Act 77 delivered risking widespread voter confusion and disenfranchisement. Clearly, some politicians are up to no good.

Maintaining and protecting voter access is critically important now more than ever. We must hold our elected officials accountable to remove all barriers to the ballot and make it easier for every eligible voter to be able to cast their ballot. Any other outcome is inexcusable.

Scott Seeborg is the Pennsylvania state director of All Voting is Local, a collaborative campaign housed at The Leadership Conference Education Fund.