Gov. Tom Wolf Vetoes Election Integrity Measure Mandating Voter ID in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks on stage during the Geisinger National Symposium, "From Crisis to Cure: Revitalizing America's Healthcare System," on November 9, 2017 in Danville, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Geisinger Symposium)
Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Geisinger Symposium

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Wednesday vetoed an election integrity bill that would have implemented a number of election safeguards, such as voter ID, in the Keystone State.

Wolf rejected the measure, HB 1300, contending it advances forms of voter suppression.

“This bill is ultimately not about improving access to voting or election security but about restricting the freedom to vote,” Wolf asserted in a memo detailing his rejection.

The bill would have required individuals to show a voter ID in order to vote in person and limited the use of ballot drop boxes. Valid forms ID would have included:

…a PennDOT-issued [Pennsylvania Department of Transportation] driver’s license or non-photo ID; a free durable, scannable voter registration identification card; or a free Department of State ID. If none of those are available, a voter could sign an affidavit affirming under penalty of law that they are who they say they are and are eligible to vote when they show up at the polls.

Additionally, the bill would have “moved up both the voter registration deadline and the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot” and “allow counties to start pre-canvassing mail-in ballots five days before the election instead of on Election Day,” as the Post-Gazette reported.

“I think voter suppression is absolutely the wrong thing to do,” Wolf said of the measure.

“To say I am disappointed in Wolf’s lack of action is an understatement,” state Rep. Seth Grove (R), who authored the bill, said. “Though Wolf has put on blinders to problems within our election process, it doesn’t mean the problems do not exist.”

He also blasted the governor on social media.

“Today Gov. Wolf has done a tremendous disservice to the voters and county election officials by vetoing HB 1300 after never engaging in negotiations with the General Assembly,” he said:

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R) and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R) also blasted the governor in a joint statement.

“The people of our Commonwealth have made it clear that they want an election system they can believe in,” they began, citing statewide polling showing 74 percent of citizens voicing their support for voter ID:

The Voter Right Protection Act that passed both chambers of the General Assembly reflects the legislative branch’s work to identify and fix flaws in our election system, and ensures no voter would be disenfranchised by ensuring every single legal voter in the state would receive a qualifying voter ID under the bill — free of charge. The process included review of best practices in multiple states including red, blue, and purple states, as well as many bipartisan hearings that were held over several months. The recommendations and changes identified in these hearings are all reflected in this important piece of legislation.

Governor Wolf was asked on several occasions to participate and provide input in the process, but he instead opted to defend the national democrats party line and kowtow to special interests by crying foul to voter suppression in the media rather than rolling up his shirt sleeves and coming to the table for the people of Pennsylvania. Today’s veto by Governor Wolf of the Voter Rights Protection Act is an out-of-touch move that goes against the majority of Pennsylvanians, including members of his own party.

Senate Republicans, they vowed, will continue efforts to strengthen the election system in the state.

“Our Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform identified a more limited set of recommendations that were approved with bipartisan support,” they said. “Those recommendations will form the basis of our election reform efforts in the fall.”

A Franklin & Marshall College Poll released this week found a majority of Pennsylvania voters, 64 percent, back a measure “requiring that all voters show a photo ID.”

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