Senate Votes to Ban Unsecured Ballot Drop Boxes and Private Funding of Election Operations

HARRISBURG – State Sen. Bob Mensch voted Wednesday to safeguard the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections as the Senate approved legislation that would prevent the future use of unsecured ballot drop boxes and ban private money to fund election operations.

“In recent years, voters have witnessed confusing and sometimes arbitrary application of election laws, including in Montgomery County in 2021,” Mensch said. “This undermines the integrity of our elections. We have a fundamental responsibility to restore faith in this process.”

Senate Bill 1200 would require mail-in ballots that are not returned in the mail to be returned only to the County Board of Elections office, effectively eliminating drop boxes in Pennsylvania. 

Drop boxes were permitted by a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in 2020, despite the fact that they were never authorized or intended by the General Assembly through the legislative process. Since that time, numerous examples of drop boxes being misused have been discovered throughout the state, including:

  • Video evidence from Montgomery County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
  • Video evidence from Lehigh County showing ballot harvesting in the 2021 General Election.
  • Video evidence from Lackawanna County showing a man allegedly harvesting multiple ballots into a drop box during the 2021 Primary Election.
  • Memorandum from Lehigh County explaining how detectives reviewed video from four different drop boxes in the county and determined there were overvotes at each of the locations.
  • Testimony from a Luzerne County Judge of Elections indicating an individual admitting to repeatedly harvesting ballots at a drop box, not realizing it was even illegal.

Eliminating unsecured ballot drop boxes will not negatively impact voter access. There are more than 10,000 publicly available locations across the Commonwealth that voters can use to return their ballots.

Senate Bill 982 would ban any state employee or county from accepting money from outside groups to pay for the administration of elections in Pennsylvania.

The legislation was created in response to the use of grant money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) during the 2020 Election. Correspondence between CTCL officials, the Wolf Administration and county officials demonstrates that funding was intentionally directed predominantly to counties that favor Democrats.

Democrat-leaning counties were selectively invited to apply for the grants before Republican-leaning counties were even made aware of the funding. Philadelphia and its surrounding counties received more than $18 million from CTCL in the 2020 Election, while other counties received significantly less.

For example, Philadelphia received $8.83 per voter in CTCL funding in 2020. On the other side of the state, Venango County, with a Republican voter registration advantage, received only $.64 per voter in CTCL funding in 2020.

Both bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com. State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch/ or Twitter @SenatorMensch.

Contact: Lidia Di Fiore ldifiore@pasen.gov (215) 541-2388