May. 02, 2024

Bad Election Measure Moves in House
Have you participated in an election by casting your ballot through the mail?

This subject continues to be important when considering Pennsylvania’s election system. Earlier this week, I voted against a bill that would change how counties handle and count ballots received by mail. 

Referred to as “pre-canvassing,” by law, counties currently must wait until the morning of Election Day to open mail-in ballots, prepare them to be counted and run them through machines. However, also in law, counties can wait up to three days to begin “canvassing” or counting ballots.

In 2022, to get results in a more unified timeline and on election night, a new law was passed to provide grants to county election offices, while requiring earlier and continuous canvassing of ballots. In other words, once election offices start counting ballots, they cannot stop until they are completed, even if that means counting occurs throughout the night.

The new law worked almost immediately, and results were published much quicker. Typically, now the first votes that are reported on election night are the mail-in ballots.

But House Bill 847, which passed 102–99, along party lines, proposes to give counties the option, if they choose, to begin the process seven days earlier. The requirement to pre-canvass ballots on Election Day would be removed from the grant agreement. And, counties would still have the option to wait three days to begin counting ballots.

These proposed changes all but guarantee that there will be delays in reporting results, specifically in statewide and national elections. Consider the impact in voter confidence if half of Pennsylvania counties report results before midnight on Election Day and the other half are still counting mail-in ballots on the Friday after Election Day. 

I am also concerned when our 67 counties use different methods and timelines to review and count ballots. Election laws should be easy to understand and administrated universally. If one county publishes results within hours of the close of voting and a neighboring county still has days of counting ballots ahead, this only erodes voter confidence. 

Finally, the bill is absent of security measures on where the ballots will be stored throughout the pre-canvassing process.

Because the current process requires the counties to count continuously without stopping, mail-in ballots remain in the vision of election officials and staff. But House Bill 847 relaxes this requirement and includes no obligation of either electronic or in-person surveillance to make certain ballots are secured.

When considering election reforms, the Legislature should continue to pursue a voter identification requirement. Such a topic has broad bipartisan support amongst Pennsylvanians. In 2021, Franklin & Marshall College found 74% of Pennsylvanians support requiring identification each time a person votes. It further separated responses by party registration and determined that measure was supported by 95% of Republicans, 47% of Democrats and 77% of independent voters.

For me, having voter identification is a simple way to improve voter confidence, regardless of party or choice of candidate.

Here are some additional news topics and reminders I would like to share.

Free Mobile Shredding Event Planned – Do you have old documents with sensitive information that need to be disposed of safely? On Thursday, May 23, from 4-6 p.m.  at my Washington Township/Export Office in the Donal Plaza, I am hosting a free Mobile Shredding Event. I am excited to partner with the Westmoreland Food Bank to merge this event with a food drive to help local families.

There is a limit of two bags or boxes per household. Examples of items to be destroyed include bank and card statements, tax documents, insurance claim forms and anything else that lists a Social Security number. Staples, paper clips and manila folders are acceptable; however, books, magazines or metal binding materials other than staples cannot be shredded. 

The documents received are shredded in a truck on-site and then taken to a local paper recycling plant to be treated and reused. Only personal shredding is permitted. No documents from commercial businesses will be accepted.

Donations to the Westmoreland Food Bank are optional. Donations must be non-perishable foods in non-glass containers.

Prevent Lyme: Check for Ticks - May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. As you spend time outdoors, it is important to check yourself, loved ones and pets for ticks and be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick-related ailments.

The first line of defense against Lyme is to take precautions outdoors by treating clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin, using insect repellent, and avoiding wooded and brushy areas with high grass or leaf litter. When you return indoors, check your clothing, gear and pets for ticks; shower as soon as possible after being outdoors; and check your body for ticks, particularly in areas such as under the arms, in and around the ears, back of the knees and other similar areas. 

If bitten, an individual should monitor the area for the appearance of a bull’s eye rash, though the rash does not develop in all cases. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, fatigue, headache and muscle aches. However, symptoms may progress to arthritic, neurologic and cardiac symptoms if not treated. 

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by the bite of a blacklegged tick or deer tick. If you pull a tick from yourself, a loved one or your pet, you may have it tested to determine if it carries Lyme or other tick-borne diseases. Learn more about Lyme disease symptoms, treatment and prevention at

Representative Jill Cooper
55th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jordan Frei
724-875-8450 /