HARRISBURG – Rep. Matthew Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset) today joined a majority of members in the House State Government Committee in approving a comprehensive election reform bill.
House Bill 1300
aims to increase access, improve security and modernize archaic election laws in Pennsylvania. The bill provides for things citizens have asked for, such as voter ID, administrative relief and funding for counties, more in-depth voter list maintenance, and additional audits to protect the integrity of elections.
This legislation is the work product of 10 hearings, 52 bipartisan testifiers and 30-plus hours of hearings. Yet, some on the other side of the aisle refuse to accept the findings and move this important legislation forward. The minority chairwoman in today’s meeting even claims that the creation of an election fraud hotline will have “every nut job in the world coming out to demand that the election be investigated.”
Rather than deal with the issues at hand, Democrats would rather stonewall by ascribing motives to other members’ reasoning for working on these difficult issues. “In committee today I had to clarify that ascribing motives are against the rules of our institution. While I don't mean to be incendiary… and I know that some latitude must be given for debate…I do believe previous speakers during the meeting ascribed motive,” Dowling said.
“My motivation for voting on this bill and for working on this issue has not been the outcome of the 2020 election, which has been stated here several times today,” he continued. “My motive has been a poorly and inconsistently run election in November of 2020 throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and more recently a worse execution in the primary election of 2021 in my community.”
Some members at the meeting tried to derail the conversation about election reforms by repeatedly remarking on the actions on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. “Statements made at the meeting were wrought with inaccuracies about what we’re here to fix. However, I thought that it was important to note that my motives were intentionally mischaracterized and that on Jan. 6, I was in my office, 53B East Wing of the Pennsylvania Capitol, and not in Washington, DC. Many of these remarks, especially those by the Lady from Philadelphia, should be stricken from the record and apologies should be made to the members” Dowling shared.
Questions of election integrity in Fayette County derive not only from the November 2020 election, but from the most recent primary as well. During the May 18 primary election in Fayette County, as reported by the local media, Republican ballots sent to 76 of the county’s 77 precincts did not have the bar codes printed at the bottom. Only the Newell precinct had the proper bar codes, and no Democratic ballots were affected across the county as initially reported.
On May 20, Dowling, Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette/Westmoreland) and Sen Pat. Stefano (R-32) filed a right-to-know request seeking the following:
• Records related to the testing of printed ballots, including copies of the ballots tested, and any records which include the date(s), time(s) and location(s) of testing.
• Records relating to the testing of voting machines and any records which include the date(s), time(s) and location(s) of testing.
• Financial records (i.e. contracts, payment vouchers and receipts) related to the printing of ballots.
• Records indicating the approval of proofs pertaining to the printing of ballots.
• Communications to or from the election bureau to judges of elections regarding the procedures to manually tabulate unscanned ballots.
• Communications pertaining to reports of ballot malfunctions.
The right-to-know request was responded to with a 30-day request for extension as permitted by law. Since that time, District Attorney Rich Bower has opened an investigation that could result in criminal charges.
“The accuracy of our election results and the reliability of our election systems is paramount,” Dowling said. “I am happy to see DA Bower trying to get to the roots of this blunder. The people of Fayette County and Pennsylvania deserve transparency so they can trust the election process.”
House Bill 1300, which is in its initial steps to becoming part of the Election Code, will give district attorneys additional tools in their arsenal, and give additional directive to counties and the Department of State as well.
“We do not want our election laws to continue to be interpreted by bureaucrats or the courts,” Dowling said.
Post-election audits are also a main outcome of the bill. Following the past two elections, questions have gone unanswered. “It bothers me that House Democrats see audits as non-essential wastes of time and money. Our local Democratic committee is also in lock-step with these ideas as indicated by Chairman George Rattay in the Herald Standard in late May,” Dowling commented. “People deserve answers, especially about this most recent election, and I have to ask why more people are not standing on the Summit screaming for them.
“Those of us elected to represent you must codify the Election Code. There is a clear way for constituents to show their approval of House and Senate members – through elections,” Dowling said. “We must make it easy vote, and hard to cheat.”
Representative Matthew Dowling
51st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler