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Joint Republican Caucus present election integrity package

Rachel Baye/WYPR

Two days after a lengthy Senate debate over election safety, House and Senate Republicans unveiled what they’re calling their “Election Integrity Package.”

In a virtual news conference Thursday morning, Allegheny County Del. Jason Buckel called the measures “common-sense safeguards.”

“Our Republican caucuses have a history of advocating for secure elections that our citizens have faith in,” he said. “This legislative package proactively establishes safeguards to ensure the integrity of our elections going forward.”

The five bills—two in the House of Delegates and three in the Senate— focus on mail-in voting, voter identification, and Board of Elections protocol.

Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire emphasized the importance of equity but held firm the message that elections need to be conducted more securely.

“We're trying to come up with balanced approaches,” he said. “We realize there's a need for greater access. But at the same time, you have to have greater security to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

But critics worry this approach will only impose more barriers without doing enough to ensure disenfranchised voters have equal access to polls.

In fact, overall, much of the package works directly against efforts Democrats say would increase accessibility, such as a permanent vote-by-mail list that passed through the House last year.

Hearings are set for three of the five bills next week. Hearings are set for the two other bills next month.

Callan Tansill-Suddath is a State House Reporter for WYPR, where she covers the General Assembly.