Pennsylvania state Senate passes bills banning ballot drop boxes, Zuckerbucks
The Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday passed two election integrity bills banning ballot drop boxes and private funds to administer elections.
The legislative chamber passed Senate Bill 1200 along party lines, which requires absentee ballots to be returned either by mail or delivered to the county board of elections office.
Republicans who oppose drop boxes said that they were not expressly authorized by a 2019 law expanding mail-in voting. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled they were legal.
GOP state Sen. Cris Dush, who wrote the bill, said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its bounds.
"We've got a problem with a lack of confidence on the part of the people got a problem with something that can definitely be utilized to do ballot stuffing. This is a legitimate issue," he said, according to WHTM, a local ABC affiliate.
Senate Bill 982 was also passed on Wednesday, with eight Democrats joining Republicans to ban so-called "Zuckerbucks," or private money to fund elections.
"Senate Bill 982 simply states what all of us understood to be fact – government should pay for elections. Voters, taxpayers and citizens alike deserve the most fair and equitable election system. It should be uniform from one county to the next regardless of size, demographics, or wealth," Republican state Sen. Lisa Baker said, reported PoliticsPA.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Center for Tech and Civic Life gave nearly $350 million in grants to municipalities for running the 2020 election.
CTCL has claimed its 2020 election grants were to be used to make voting safer amid the pandemic, without any political preference. However, a House Republican investigation found that less than 1% of the funds were spent on personal protective equipment. Most of the funds were focused on get-out-the-vote efforts and registrations.
While CTCL claims that more grants were awarded to counties won by former President Donald Trump than President Joe Biden, the nonprofit gave larger grants and more money per capita to Democratic counties than to Republican ones. Trump won more than five times as many counties as Biden in 2020.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) opposes both Senate bills, but his office did not indicate whether he would veto them, according to Pittsburgh's NPR News Station. He previously vetoed a bill that allowed only the secretary of the commonwealth to receive the funds and distribute them equally across counties.
Wolf tweeted on Thursday, "Election enhancements Pennsylvanians need:
"Allow counties to process ballots sooner
"Increase poll worker pay
"Upgrade to secure electronic poll books
"Help fill poll worker vacancies
"What Republicans are taking action on:
"Eliminate secure drop boxes"