Opposites attract? Two Senators working across the aisle on Pa.’s election reform

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — While a complete overhaul of the state’s election code led to a Governor Wolf veto earlier this summer, everyone agrees there are fixes that need to be made. Two senators from two different backgrounds and two different parties are working on it.

They are a political odd couple. Sharif Street (D), an African-American from Philly, and Dave Argall (R-Berks, Schuylkill), a rural white guy.

“Every precinct in Schuylkill County voted for Donald Trump, I doubt any precincts in Sharif’s district voted for Donald Trump,” Sen. Argall said. But they are working together on election reform. Pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots. Moving deadlines. Drop boxes with rules and security.

“Pennsylvanians don’t want us to stand in the corner and fight with one another,” Sen. Street said. For now, they’ll avoid the thorny issues of Voter ID, though Street’s stance has softened. “The idea of confirming a voter’s identity has never been offensive to me,” Sen. Street said.

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Argall can pass on the fight now, knowing a voter ID constitutional amendment is coming later. “I suspect if we’re gonna do voter ID that’s the way to go bypass the governor and send it directly to the voters of Pennsylvania,” Sen. Argall said.

Both agree that letting officials open and sort mail-ins ahead of time to avoid the lengthy delay and confusion of 2020. “Nationally it made Pennsylvania look like we couldn’t get our act together,” Sen. Street said. “It’s supposed to be election day, not election week and people don’t trust the system when people are still counting ballots Thursday, Friday, Saturday after the election,” Sen. Argall said.

The senators have teamed up before. The Philly guy gives out holiday turkeys. The country guy? “His family owns a turkey farm,” Sen. Street said. “My wife’s family, very different,” Sen. Argall said. “So we buy turkeys from them and he helps me get a very good price,” Sen. Street said.

So Democrats and Republicans can work together? “On that, we agree,” Sen. Argall said.

Argall says it’s not humanly possible to get the bill passed in time for November’s general election but hopes to have it done by next year’s primary when there are open seas for US Senate and governor.

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