Harrisburg, PA – At the same time that Governor Tom Wolf signed the state budget into law, he refused to sign and vetoed a bill known as the Voting Rights Protection Act, or House Bill 1300.
It had passed in the House and Senate, and supporters say it was a necessary step to restore trust in the election process. The bill included voter ID laws and funding for election audits.
However, opponents of the bill including the governor say it created unfair and sometimes unconstitutional barriers to voting, limited the mail-in voting system that many Pennsylvanians embraced, and reduced the number of days to register to vote.
While lawmakers can override a veto, they need a two-thirds majority. This bill only passed the Senate by a more narrow margin, 29 to 21, so they would not be able to override Wolf’s decision.
Some Republicans say they would like to have a constitutional amendment to require voter ID.
Rep. Mike Armanini, a Republican serving the Clearfield and Elk County area, talks about how he voted for HB 1300 for voting protection provisions.
Another reaction, this one from Rep. Seth Grove, a Republican serving the 196th District, was sent in as a press release:
Wolf’s Veto of Voting Rights Protection Act Fails Pennsylvanians
HARRISBURG – Earlier today, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Voting Rights Protection Act (House Bill 1300) to correct and modernize Pennsylvania’s election law. In response, House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York), who authored the bill, issued the following statement:
“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.”
Read the statement from Governor Tom Wolf’s office on the veto:
The governor vetoed House Bill 1300, which creates unconscionable – and in some cases unconstitutional – barriers to voting in Pennsylvania and rolls back many of the bipartisan improvements made in Act 77 of 2019. This legislation would infringe on Pennsylvanians’ freedom to vote by imposing additional voter identification restrictions, limiting our mail-in voting system – which Pennsylvanians have widely embraced – and reducing the number of days to register to vote.