Wolf vetoes GOP bill with voter ID, other elections changes

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor vetoed a Republican-crafted elections bill Wednesday, a proposal that would have mandated voter identification in all elections and made a host of other changes to election law.

Gov. Tom Wolf said outside his Capitol offices that he considers the measure a voter suppression effort.

“I think voter suppression is absolutely the wrong thing to do,” Wolf said, adding that he would welcome a narrower bill that would give counties more time to start counting ballots and to provide more money to help them run elections.

The Republican elections bill, developed in large part in response to some GOP voters’ anger over President Donald Trump’s reelection loss, would have changed registration deadlines from 15 days to 30 days prior to an election. Mail-in voters would have had an earlier deadline to request ballots.

“It’s really a shame for the counties and those who are looking to improve our election laws that the governor vetoes a bill that he refused to be engaged with even for one minute of his time,” said House Republican spokesperson Jason Gottesman.

Asked if majority Republicans would pursue a more narrow bill to focus on elements such as precanvassing that are not divisive along partisan lines, Gottesman deferred to Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, who led the effort to develop the bill that Wolf vetoed.

Drop boxes for mail-in ballots would have been limited to being available for only seven days before an election and monitored by designees of the major political parties.

In a veto message issued Wednesday, Wolf said the bill was “incurably riddled with unacceptable barriers to voting,” including requiring voter IDs, new limits on mail-in voting, what he called an “arbitrary” signature matching process to verify voters and the drop box rules.

“This bill is ultimately not about improving access to voting or election security, but about restricting the freedom to vote,” Wolf said in the veto message. “If adopted, it would threaten to disrupt election administration, undermine faith in government and invite costly, time-consuming and destabilizing litigation.”

Wolf also used his line-item veto authority to eliminate $3.1 million in funding in separate budget legislation after Republican lawmakers claimed that it had been earmarked to create an election-auditing bureau under the independently elected auditor general.

Wolf had said there was no such agreement to use the money for an election-auditing bureau, which would have broad authority to subpoena materials and review elections.

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Gottesman said the line-item veto showed Wolf “simply can’t be trusted to make a deal with the Legislature.”

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