ACLU-PA Position: Neutral [updated]
SB 982 would amend the PA Election Code to prohibit the use of non-public monies for the administration of elections, requiring election expenses to be funded only by federal, state or local revenues derived from taxes, fees, and other sources of public revenue. Additionally, SB 982 would prohibit state and local governments from soliciting, applying for, entering into contract with or receiving gifts, donations, grants or funding from a nongovernmental entity for election expenses.
SB 982 was filed in response to the CTCL grants (Center for Tech and Civic Life) that assisted counties with COVID-19-related preparation for the 2020 elections. There were NO restrictions on those grants; all counties were free to apply for those funds. Had that money not been available, some counties would not have been able to run elections in 2020. Most counties need temporary staff and most don’t have the resources to hire. Because the legislature has repeatedly failed to properly fund elections, and counties were desperate to have the resources needed to run fair elections safely during a pandemic, these grants patched a critical funding gap. If the legislature is committed to banning third-party grants from elections, then the General Assembly should include a provision to provide increased funding for county election offices.
NOTE: The ACLU-PA changed its position from "oppose" to "neutral" on SB 982 when the criminal penalty for violations of its provisions was reduced from a felony to misdemeanor charge and the legislature agreed to $45 million in funding for county election offices in the 2023-2024 budget.
Governor Wolf signed SB 982 into law on July 11, 2022 as Act 88 of 2022.