CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A bill that would address elections concerns and improve voting and voter access is being introduced by Centre County Representative Scott Conklin.

“What we want to do today is actually have some real election reform,” said Conklin (D), 77th District. “This is legislation that Republicans and Democrats alike can agree to. This is a piece of legislation that will make it safer, easier, more convenient.”

The legislation would allow pre-canvassing of ballots to begin 21 days before election day, instead of the morning of, to help reduce delays in vote county.

“It will be a huge relief to our elections director, our paid elections workers, and our volunteers, to have upwards of three weeks before the election to start counting and storing those ballots,” said Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins.

The bill would also:

  • Require risk-limiting audits
  • Provide for early voting
  • Give county election boards flexibility when establishing ballot return locations
  • Make the ‘permanent’ vote-by-mail list actually permanent
  • Create a system of curing for absentee and mail-in ballots
  • Create a public voter fraud hotline
  • Establish a voter bill of rights
  • Seek to have the state reimburse counties for the costs of voting machines, ballot processing machines, and electronic record systems.

Conklin said the bill was written in partnership with the Centre County Commissioners Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins.

“A lot of people are talking about election law, they’re talking about doing audits, they’re talking about changing the way we do elections,” said Conklin. “The only people they aren’t asking in the County Commissioners and the County Commissioner’s Association.”

Conklin said it’s a bipartisan effort to strength trust in the elections system.

“This is common sense, county-led, opportunities for us to strengthen our democracy,” said Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe. “I think that county commissioners across Pennsylvania should look at this as a model for how we go into the future.”