Pa. Republicans push state bill to expand poll watchers to prevent voter fraud

A GOP-sponsored bill in Pennsylvania to allow poll watchers from anywhere in the state to monitor for fraud at voting sites passed the state’s lower house Tuesday.

The proposal aims to expand existing law that allows registered voters to monitor polls within their county. If the change becomes law, a registered voter from anywhere in Pennsylvania could be appointed as a poll watcher in any election district.

State Rep. Rick Saccone, the bill’s sponsor, told Fox News his legislation is necessary. “Everybody should be for good government and following the rules when it comes to voting to ensure that your vote counts and that every vote counts and that it’s not diluted by any type of fraud.”

He added, “if you believe there is no voter fraud in Pennsylvania, you should also want poll watchers in there to confirm that everything went well and there was no cheating and there were no irregularities.”

Saccone’s efforts to pass this legislation began in early 2015, he said. President Trump, during the 2016 campaign, repeatedly mentioned his concern for voter fraud and how he believed poll watchers were important.

"You’ve got to get everybody you know, and you got to watch your polling booths because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania, certain areas," Trump told supporters at an October 2016 rally in Manheim, Pa. “I hear too many bad stories and we can’t lose an election because of you-know-what I’m talking about. So go and vote and then go check out areas because a lot of bad things happen.”

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf in a June letter to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity fought back against Trump claims, saying, "During the campaign, then-candidate Trump repeatedly and falsely suggested, without evidence, that there existed wide-spread voter fraud in Pennsylvania … these claims were untrue."

“President Trump may be right or may not be...but that’s the purpose of poll watchers. We’ll be able to determine once and for all if that’s true,” Saccone said.

Opponents in the state house have voiced concerns about unnecessary friction at polling sites that could emerge from out-of-district poll watchers.

“There is no place for voter fraud, but there’s also no place for unsubstantiated allegations that call into question the integrity of our election,” Democratic state rep. Matt Bradford told Fox News, “To basically allow this is frankly outrageous.”

Saccone contends the process for choosing poll watchers will be a careful process. “Poll watchers have to be invited by the candidate or the party…if there’s any mischief, they get thrown out.”

If the bill becomes law, Saccone says it could be an example for other states that are concerned about potential voter fraud.

“We can learn from each other and we can try our improvements. Saccone said. "If they’re transferable across the country that would be a great thing."

 

Michelle Chavez is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Pittsburgh.