Session: 2021-2022

ACLU-PA Position: Opposes

SB 982 would amend the PA Election Code to prohibit the use of non-public monies for the administration of elections, requiring election expenses to be funded only by federal, state or local revenues derived from taxes, fees, and other sources of public revenue. 

Additionally, SB 982 would prohibit state and local governments from soliciting, applying for, entering into contract with or receiving gifts, donations, grants or funding from a nongovernmental entity for election expenses. A violation of this provision would be criminalized as a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000—the same grading as involuntary manslaughter of a child and statutory sexual assault.

SB 982 was filed in response to the CTCL grants (Center for Tech and Civic Life) that assisted counties with COVID-19-related preparation for the 2020 elections. There were NO restrictions on those grants; all counties were free to apply for those funds. Had that money not been available, some counties would not have been able to run elections in 2020. Most counties need temporary staff and most don’t have the resources to hire. Because the legislature has repeatedly failed to properly fund elections, and counties were desperate to have the resources needed to run fair elections safely during a pandemic, these grants patched a critical funding gap. If the legislature is committed to banning third-party grants from elections, then the General Assembly should include a provision to provide increased funding for county election offices.

All 67 counties in Pennsylvania—red or blue, urban or rural—deserve the necessary funding to run secure and accessible elections. The General Assembly should protect the freedom to vote for all Pennsylvanians by fully funding our county elections offices so they don’t need to turn to nonprofits for assistance. But until the legislature is willing to do so, it should not tie the hands of local elections officials—and it certainly should not threaten county election workers with second-degree felony charges for seeking assistance in the absence of adequate state funding.

Sponsors

Senator Lisa Baker

Status

Passed Senate

Session

2021 - 2022

Bill number

Position

Oppose