Pennsylvania governor vetoes GOP bill 'riddled' with voting restrictions

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Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf accused the Republican-controlled legislature of 'restricting the freedom to vote.'

Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday vetoed a sweeping voter suppression bill passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature, stopping one of the many attempts by state Republican lawmakers to make it harder to vote in the wake of Donald Trump's loss of the 2020 presidential election.

Wolf wrote in a letter explaining his veto that the legislation is "incurably riddled with unacceptable barriers to voting."

He added that he was vetoing the bill because it was "ultimately not about improving access to voting or election security, but about restricting the freedom to vote."

Pennsylvania House Bill 1300, which passed the Republican-controlled House and Senate, was a lot like the voter suppression laws GOP-controlled legislatures passed in other states.

Like laws passed in Georgia, Florida, and Iowa, it would have tightened voter ID requirements and limited the use of ballot drop boxes, something Donald Trump pushed for while lying about them not being secure.

But H.B. 1300 went further in some ways.

It would have rolled back voting rights expansions Pennsylvania state lawmakers passed on a bipartisan basis in 2019 that gave people more time to register to vote and allowed voters to enroll to receive an absentee ballot application automatically for every election.

H.B. 1300 would have moved back the deadline for registering to vote from 15 days before an election to 30 days and the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot from seven days before an election to 15 days.

The bill also would have created a Bureau of Election Audits to review election results. That comes as Pennsylvania Republicans have been pushing for an audit similar to the shambolic and scandal-plagued audit of voting results being conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Trump lost his run for reelection to Joe Biden in Pennsylvania by a margin of 1.2 points, a loss his legal team tried to overturn through the court system. That effort ultimately failed and contributed to Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani having his law license suspended in New York for lying during court proceedings.

Democrats in Congress have pushed for voting rights legislation, including H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which would stop nearly every Republican-passed voter suppression law. However, Republicans blocked it in the Senate in June amid fears expressed openly by some that making it easier for eligible voters to cast ballots could hurt the GOP's prospects in future elections.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is also taking steps to combat voter suppression laws, with Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing last week that the Department of Justice is suing Georgia over its version and might sue other states as well.

"Where we believe the civil rights of Americans have been violated, we will not hesitate to act," Garland said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.