Gov. Wolf softens stance on voter ID in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Voter ID in Pennsylvania may not be dead after all.

Governor Tom Wolf, who has insisted he would not approve any bill with voter ID, has apparently softened his stance.

Spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said in a statement to abc27 on Wednesday that he’s now, “willing to discuss the inclusion of identification requirements as long as the forms of ID accepted are expansive and easy to acquire.”

That is a change, with caveats and qualifiers. The governor has been a vehement critic of all things voter ID. He vetoed Representative Seth Grove’s (R-York) voter reform bill without hesitation. “He is the first Democrat governor in the entire nation to say, ‘I will accept voter ID enhancements,'” Grove said, noting the significance of Wolf’s statement. But then Grove added, “We don’t know what that looks like or what that is.”

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Grove also has moved off a hard-and-fast position. He has been saying since the veto that voter reform is dead until there’s a new governor. But on Wednesday he re-introduced HB1300, his voter reform measure. Is that a sign there’s a new spirit of cooperation?

“Do I think he’s earnest about working with me?” Grove asked. “We’ll see. He’s got my phone number. We live five miles apart. We can have tea over one weekend and hammer this out,” Grove said.

Perhaps the tea will have to wait because both sides continue to hammer at each other. Wolf’s statement also said he was proud to veto Grove’s bill adding, “What Republicans in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have proposed are sweeping voter suppression proposals.”

Grove noticed the tone. “He (Wolf) calls every member of the House Republican caucus an insurrectionist, and a horrible person and a racist. I don’t know how that makes you want to go to work with him,” Grove said.

Capitol insiders suspect Wolf’s change of heart has to do with the fact that lawmakers are pushing forward with a voter ID constitutional amendment that cuts the governor out of the process. It will very likely pass in 2023. Analysts suggest that Wolf would be wise to cut some kind of deal before it becomes law and get some of the things he wants in exchange. Voter ID, they’re certain, is coming either way.

A compromise deal on election reforms is a little less certain. He is still opposed to anything that restricts the ballot box. “I’m not holding my breath to get a phone call or an email to do a sitdown with himself or anybody he wants to put in charge of negotiating,” Grove said. “But we’ll see.”

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