Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) has joined forces with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) in introducing a measure to strengthen the integrity of American elections, which would ultimately require states institute certain election procedures — including a ban on ballot harvesting and video surveillance of absentee ballot drop boxes — in order to qualify for funding under the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Kelly unveiled on Tuesday H.R. 8753, the Protect Election Integrity Act of 2020, which serves as the House companion piece to Hawley’s legislation in the Senate. The Pennsylvania lawmaker’s proposal would amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which provides funding to states “to improve election administration and replace outdated voting systems” and creates “minimum standards for states to follow in several key areas of election administration.”
Kelly’s proposal would require states to adhere to “certain election procedures” to qualify for the funding. Those procedures include passing laws banning ballot harvesting, guaranteeing poll watcher access, and requiring ballot counting to begin when polls close and ensuring that it does not stop until all votes are counted, among other requirements.
Required procedures include:
- a law that permits observation of polling places and vote counting by at least two appointed representatives of each campaign;
- a law requiring that mail-in and absentee ballots be counted and recorded immediately upon receipt with results kept secret until the polls have closed on the date of the election;
- a law requiring that ballot counting begins when the polls close and does not stop until all ballots are counted;
- a law providing video surveillance of absentee and mail-in ballot drop boxes;
- a law requiring election officials to be transparent regarding plans for staffing and equipment in advance of election day;
- and a law requiring that municipal entities responsible for certifying elections conduct audits of their voting systems, the findings of which are to be made public.
Last week, Hawley unveiled legislation that calls for similar changes, including a ban on ballot harvesting, video surveillance of absentee and mail-in ballot drop boxes, and the continuation of ballot counting until it reaches completion rather than pausing the process — a phenomenon that occurred on election night.
“I can’t tell you the number of people who have come up to me and said, ‘You can’t let this happen. You can’t let this happen. What are you going to do about it?’” Kelly told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
“And so we started thinking here in our office, and Sen. Hawley’s piece is out and we said, ‘You know what? We need to have a companion in the House to this that would show the American people that we’re going to do everything that we can legislatively to return integrity to our election process,’” he said, citing the Morning Consult and Politico poll that revealed that 70 percent of Republicans do not feel as though the election was free or fair.
“That’s staggering,” Kelly said.
When asked if his legislation will garner bipartisan support, Kelly told Breitbart News that it would be “very telling if it didn’t.”
“There’s nothing in this piece that is shaded one way or the other. What this piece of legislation does is try to instill integrity in our system, because right now, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another time — at least in my time on the earth — where the government and the processes that we use are more in question by the people we serve than they are right now,” the Pennsylvania lawmaker said.
“The questions that abound with this election — it goes way, way beyond anything anybody would think,” he added.