PA Senate Republicans Vote to Drop the Ballot Drop Box

A voter drops off their mail-in ballot prior to the primary election, in Willow Grove, Pa., Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Patrick Berkery

April 13, 2022

Citing increased risk of voter fraud, the state Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would eliminate the use of ballot drop boxes in Pennsylvania elections.

Pennsylvania Republicans are attempting to erect another roadblock to voting under the guise of trying to weed out election fraud.

In a 29-20 party line vote, the state Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would eliminate the use of ballot drop boxes in the commonwealth.

Under Senate Bill 1200, voters would be allowed to return mail-in ballots only through the postal service or in person at their county board of elections, located in the county seat. 

Elections officials in several counties introduced secure ballot drop boxes early in 2020, and a state Supreme Court ruling upheld their use. The purpose was to increase early voter accessibility for disabled, elderly, and immunocompromised people. Drop boxes also gave residents in the state’s sprawling rural communities — where mail delivery tends to run slower than in densely populated areas, and county election offices can be harder to reach — another voting option.

From the start, Republicans have labeled the implementation of drop boxes as a constitutional overreach by the high court, and an open invitation for voter fraud like ballot harvesting, where a voter drops off more than their own ballot without authorization.

The bill’s prime sponsor, state Sen. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), has claimed that drop boxes are a contributing factor in the growing mistrust of the election process, and cites examples of drop box tampering on his website. Dush is heading up the Senate’s end of the “forensic investigation” state Republicans are conducting over the 2020 election.

Multiple Democrats argued during Wednesday’s hearing that drop boxes are secure and equipped with mechanisms to combat voter fraud like security cameras.

On Twitter, state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware) chided her Republican colleagues for their thinly-veiled attempt at voter suppression.

SB 1200 now heads to the state House for a vote.

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