HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A bill to require voter ID and make a host of other changes to Pennsylvania election law passed the state Senate Friday on party lines and is on its way to the Democratic governor, who plans to veto it.
Senators voted on party lines, 29-21, for the Republican-crafted measure, which would also alter registration and ballot counting deadlines and create several new methods to check election results.
“We are here once again dealing with the issue of what can clearly be termed voter suppression,” said Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia. He said all of the proposed changes would limit ballot access. “It’s all they do. They limit the franchise and not expand it.”
The bill was developed in large part in response to GOP voters’ anger over President Donald Trump’s re-election loss last year.
It also makes changes county elections officials have sought to begin processing ballots earlier and to set an earlier deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot.
Wolf press secretary Lyndsay Kensinger said Gov. Tom Wolf plans to veto the bill.
Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, said many voters have lost confidence in elections, and the changes might help.
“This bill will transform our election system for the better, and you’ve heard this phrase before, make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in Pennsylvania,” Argall said.
The registration deadline would change from 15 days to 30 days prior to an election, and mail-in ballots would have to be requested 15 days before the vote. Drop boxes for mail-in ballots would be limited to seven days before an election and monitored by designees of the major political parties.
Counties would get five days before election day to begin canvassing absentee and mail-in ballots.
The bill would make new rules for fixing problems on mail-in ballots envelopes, such as lack of signatures or dates.
There would be new county-issued voter registration cards, and signature matching procedures to verify voter eligibility.
Hughes warned signature verification is not reliable, that “there is no documented, fool-proof methodology that exists in this nation” to check signatures accurately.
Kensinger said Friday that Wolf will veto the bill.
“Why are we going down this path, knowing that’s going to be the outcome?” asked Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, whose effort to add campaign finance reforms to the measure was voted down Friday by Republicans.
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