State Representative Seth Grove (R-PA-York) told legislative colleagues on Monday that he will introduce a measure to ease the process by which Pennsylvanians can report voter fraud and other election-related problems. 

The bill would require the Pennsylvania secretary of state to establish a 1-800 hotline that voters could call to note any alleged misconduct they encounter in the course of an election. The secretary would also need to host annual training sessions for county-level prosecutors on the commonwealth’s election rules. 

Another provision would establish an independent prosecutor to be appointed by the state attorney general and confirmed by the state Senate at least three months before the Keystone State’s primary election. Once appointed, this attorney would work with the secretary of state and law-enforcement officials to review and address election complaints. 

Grove’s bill would furthermore mandate that each county’s district attorney either act as or designate an election integrity officer to take charge of voting security efforts. This official would work to fine-tune the county’s ability to analyze evidence of fraud and other election-related crimes.

“This legislation will provide statutory structure to ensure all election complaints are reviewed and responded to,” Grove wrote in a memorandum seeking co-sponsors for his measure. “Further, this system will create a system of continual improvement at the county level and the state level. It will help inform policymakers and administrators what are the ongoing issues with our election systems to address them.”

The representative’s proposal also calls for procedural changes regarding poll-watchers’ ability to observe and note alleged violations. Any such information would be submitted to the independent prosecutor. 

Watchers would be permitted to closely view canvassing and other election procedures, which the Philadelphia City Commissioners did not allow in November 2020, spurring litigation by former President Donald Trump’s campaign. (The lawsuit failed after the state’s Democrat-controlled Supreme Court considered it.)

Grove’s election complaint bill would take effect upon passage. While the Republican-run State House of Representatives and Senate seem poised to pass such legislation, it would face long odds getting the signature of Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who has largely resisted efforts to tighten election security, some of them also spearheaded by Grove, who chairs the House State Government Committee. 

The other major bill he authored in this legislative session to address election security concerns is the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act. The proposed law would require that voters show state-issued identification in order to participate in elections and would standardize numerous electoral procedures across the commonwealth. 

Wolf vetoed the original version of the act last June. Subsequent comments the governor has made about being open to potential ID requirements prompted Grove to author a new rendition of the bill, though Wolf has resisted backing it.

Should Grove and his Republican colleagues choose to submit similar proposals in future legislative sessions, their enactment will almost certainly depend on which party occupies the governor’s mansion. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) is running unopposed in the Democratic primary to succeed the term-limited Wolf, and the former has spoken out against tighter election security even more forcefully than the latter has. 

My plan to strengthen our democracy will protect the voting rights of every Pennsylvanian and defend our vote-by-mail laws,” Shapiro recently tweeted. “My opponents will undermine our democracy — and they’ll overturn our vote-by-mail laws if given the chance. That’s the difference.” 

No-excuse absentee voting would not end under any of the bills Grove has written but other legislation introduced in the General Assembly would end the practice which began in 2020.

Throughout his campaign for governor, Shapiro has characterized the kind of reforms Republicans have supported as “voter suppression.”  

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Seth Grove” by Representative Seth Grove. Background Photo “Election Day 2020” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.