Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pushing an overhaul of the state’s election system with new voter laws. They aim to tighten security and reduce fraud. The proposal is among more than 300 voting bills introduced by GOP lawmakers nationwide following the 2020 presidential election.
Pennsylvania’s proposal is not unlike the two Arizona laws currently facing a federal lawsuit. Introduced by State Rep. Seth Grove (R), the bill calls for stricter voter ID requirements, enhanced verification of signatures on mail-in ballots, decreased hours at polling stations, and other changes.
The 150-page proposal bans local governments from accepting private donations for election purposes. However, it allocates new state funding to cover the cost of electronic poll books and other supplies.
These Pennsylvania voter laws require all voters to present a valid ID each time they vote. But they also expand what counts as a valid ID and offers free ID cards to anyone who asks.
“This is a solid election reform bill, which simply ensures it is easier to vote and harder to cheat,” says Grove. “This responsible bill includes all aspects of issues brought before the committee and will propel Pennsylvania’s election into the 21st century, all while fixing fatal flaws and election security issues.”
Introduced following a series of 10 hearings held between January and April, Grove’s proposal includes an additional $3.1 million in funding to the state auditor general to create a Bureau of Election Audits. The new agency would be tasked with conducting ‘results-confirming audits’ of every election in the state.
“Even a shred of uncertainty in the results of our elections is enough to shake the bedrock of what we stand for in this country,” argues House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R). “We must make strides to grow trust in our processes, and a thorough, independent audit of every election in our Commonwealth is a step toward ensuring the public’s trust.”
Pennsylvania was a major source of uncertainty in 2020 when the state voted for Biden by a margin of just 1%. Former President Donald Trump called for a forensic audit, but lawmakers refused.
Grove’s proposal cleared the GOP-led House and Senate in June. However, it is expected to face a veto from Governor Tom Wolf (D).
“Make no mistake, this proposal is not about protecting voter rights or increasing access,” says Wolf’s press secretary, Lyndsay Kensinger. “It is an extremist proposal to try and undermine confidence in our election system which led to the assault on the US Capitol.”
Democratic lawmakers including Wolf oppose any and all changes to election security.
“This is another attempt by our Republican majorities to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” argues State Rep. Matt Bradford (D). “The party of Trump seems committed to a voter suppression platform.”
Grove has promised to introduce a ballot measure for voter ID if Wolf votes his legislation. According to polls, roughly 74% of Pennsylvania voters (and 80% of voters nationwide) support voter ID requirements.
“We will move on to doing a Constitutional Amendment for voter ID,” promised Grove. “And then we will be moving off of election reform, and we’re going to take it to the people if Governor Wolf doesn’t want to work with us.”