AMAC members in Pennsylvania responded to multiple calls to action and sent nearly 4,000 messages to the General Assembly telling them to pass HB 1300, the “Voting Rights Protection Act.” Their voices were heard as this comprehensive election reform bill passed the state House and Senate and was sent to Governor Tom Wolf for his signature.
As expected, the bill, which counted the banning of ballot harvesting (trafficking), enacting a Senior Citizen Voter Bill of Rights; enhancing voter ID; banning third party funding of election administration; and increasing access to voting among its many progressive provisions was vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf. While the veto was anticipated, it came despite the efforts by AMAC members to send another 3,770-plus messages to the Governor telling him to fulfill the will of the people of Pennsylvania and sign the bill into law.
Representative Seth Grove (R-York), who wrote the Voting Rights Protection Act, said, “AMAC members were critical in grassroots support for HB 1300. Without it, we’re not sure we would have had the support to pass it to the Governor.”
The veto comes amidst strong support by Pennsylvania voters for election reform, including having to show identification when voting. According to a poll conducted by Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, 59 percent of registered voters surveyed supported reforming Pennsylvania’s election laws. Showing an ID before voting was heavily supported by Republican and Independent voters by significant margins, 95 percent and 79 percent, respectively. In contrast, only 47 percent of those who identified as Democrat voters and who were also oversampled in the survey supported voter ID.
Representative Grove, who chairs the House State Government Committee, wrote HB 1300 after considering testimony from a series of ten hearings concerning election law earlier this year. The Committee heard testimony from county election directors, the Pennsylvania Department of State, and election experts.
When asked what is next for election reform in Pennsylvania now that Governor Wolf vetoed HB 1300, Grove said, “Since the Governor never entered into good faith negotiations on election policy, we will be taking our case for election integrity directly to the people of Pennsylvania.”
Indeed, the Senate recently passed SB 735, a constitutional amendment that would require voter identification prior to voting in Pennsylvania elections, with one Democrat joining Republicans in support of the measure. The bill now goes to the House. It must be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions and would then go to the voters. The earliest voters may consider the amendment would be 2023.
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