Delaware Valley Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) called Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of the new voting rights bill “regrettable” and mocked the Democrat for opposing the law’s proposed voter ID card.
“House Bill 1300, the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act, would have improved efficiency, security and access to our voting process,” Williams told Delaware Valley Journal. “It would have provided every voter with a free, durable, scannable voter registration card. Like a library card, voters would present it upon arriving at the polls to scan into the system to vote. What is so onerous or burdensome about that?
“It’s regrettable that the Governor is so afraid of the functional equivalent of a library card that he said NO to early voting, lawful drop boxes, guaranteeing access for disabled voters, pre-canvassing of ballots – tools specifically requested by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania – and other needed improvements to our 84-year-old Election Code,” Williams said.
Wolf said in his veto message that the GOP-backed legislation “is ultimately not about improving access to voting or election security, but about restricting the freedom to vote.” But supporters note the law would have allowed early voting, mail-in ballots and drop-box voting — though all would have more protections against fraud than Democrats were advocating.
Another Delaware Valley Republican expressed his regret over the governor’s decision.
“I have heard from numerous constituents, and individuals across the Commonwealth, that election reform is something that they want to see,” said Senator Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery) in a statement. “The Voter Rights Protection Act, which was passed in both chambers and was indicative that what the people of Pennsylvania want was vetoed by the governor anyway, so he is once again going against the will of the people.”
Williams, a first-term Republican, echoed complaints from House leadership about Wolf’s refusal to engage on the legislation.
“Early on, House Republicans asked the Governor to work together on the bill. He refused. We asked to work with House Democrats and were prepared to support several Democratic amendments to the bill. Instead, House Democrat leadership forced the withdrawal of amendments, so they could claim, even though it was demonstrably untrue, that they were not a part of the process.”
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) released a statement urging Pennsylvanians to focus their frustration on the governor’s office. “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.”
Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), one of the leading Republicans on the issue, says he will advance a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID out of his House State Government Committee. It has already passed the Senate.
While the earliest it can appear on the ballot is 2023, Grove said it’s time to act.
“This will take election reform directly to the people, the majority of whom support the measure, and bypass the executive branch.”