Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed the Voting Rights Protection Act (House Bill 1300
) to correct and modernize Pennsylvania’s election law.
Statements of Response from House Leaders
“With a swipe of his veto pen, Gov. Tom Wolf once again failed Pennsylvanians. From signature verification to requiring voters to show identification when voting, the Voting Rights Protection Act included initiatives supported by the majority of Pennsylvania voters. In fact, a recent poll by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, found that 74% of those polled support voters’ having to show an identification card and 81% are in favor of signature verification. The numbers don’t lie.
“Throughout 10 hearings on Pennsylvania’s election process, we heard time and again the need to fix flaws in our election. Local election officials asked for the deadline to register to vote and the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot be moved up so their staff have more time to do their jobs. The Voting Rights Protection Act would have done what people who work in election officials asked for. Unfortunately, Wolf turned a blind eye to their requests.
“Since 2016, voters have made their frustrations over the wait times at polling places, confusing voting guidelines and other issues known. Unfortunately, Wolf has plugged his ears to their complaints when he vetoed the Voting Rights Protection Act. Even at his own polling location in York County this past primary election, voters had a two-hour wait.
“To say I am disappointed in Wolf’s lack of action is an understatement. Though Wolf has put on blinders to problems within our election process, it doesn’t mean the problems do not exist. As chairman of the House State Government Committee, I will continue to seek solutions to the issues at hand. This will begin with the committee taking up Senate Bill 735 to require voter identification via a constitutional amendment. This will take election reform directly to the people, the majority of whom support the measure, and bypass the executive branch.”
- Rep. Seth Grove, Chairman of the PA House State Government Committee
“At a time when our citizens overwhelmingly support making necessary improvements in the administration, access and security of our elections, the governor has missed an incredible opportunity to make Pennsylvania elections a national standard instead of a national embarrassment.
“House Bill 1300 was a comprehensive, well-developed path forward that would have significantly increased voter access, made necessary changes to the administration of elections, and modernized our electoral systems to the benefit of all eligible voters.
“The inclusion of $3.1 million in the state budget for an independent Bureau of Election Audits within the state’s Department of the Auditor General would have promoted integrity and confidence in election results and processes, and helped identify weaknesses so that additional reforms could be enacted.
“Today, the governor may have denied House Bill 1300 from becoming law and he may have prevented Pennsylvania from being the first state in the nation in advancing truly independent election audits, but the ultimate result of these choices is the continued erosion of confidence in the foundation of our Republic.
“Trust is a fragile and delicate thing. It is very easy to break and lose and one of the hardest things to earn back.
“I worry that today’s actions not only rob the people of their fundamental rights to free and fair elections, but these choices work against the assurances that government should give to all people - that their votes are cast and counted without question.
“I will use every tool available to me to work to enact these important changes and am more committed than ever to making sure that no one, regardless of their position in government, works against the sanctity of the bedrock principle that governs a free people – the right to choose for themselves through lawfully conducted elections.”
- Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler
“After 10 comprehensive hearings on our election law held over four-and-a-half months by the House State Government Committee, which includes both Republicans and Democrats, a bill was produced that would have modernized our antiquated election laws, provided for every ask by county commissioners and local election administrators, and guaranteed voting rights through accessibility and integrity.
“Unfortunately, those important updates to the Election Code were denied to Pennsylvanians by a blatantly partisan swipe of the governor’s pen today.
“It is a shame that he would deny counties their desired asks and turn a deaf ear to an overwhelming number of Pennsylvanians who support things like enhanced voter identification and increased accessibility through modernization by vetoing this bill. That is especially true when he did not spend one minute of his time actually discussing it or negotiating it with the members who authored this legislation, despite their best efforts to reach out to him to do so.
“When voters complain about the chronic problems with our election system that continue to erode confidence in our election outcomes, they will only have Gov. Wolf to blame for not engaging with lawmakers on this bill and not signing this comprehensive legislation supported by the very voters he is claiming to protect.”
- PA House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff
Get the details on the Voting Rights Protection Act here.