UPDATE: Pa. voters, not politics, could decide how to best secure elections; bill moves to full Senate

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A new plan put forward by republicans could allow voters, not politics, to enact change to Pennsylvania’s existing voting laws.

The changes in question have been a hot topic of debate. House Republicans want more accessible, secure, and accurate elections, but Democrats say it’s voter suppression.

“The security of our elections is vital to our democracy,” state Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-83), who is making the proposal with state Senator Judy Ward (R-30), said.

“One way we can help maintain that security is by having individuals show identification each time they vote, instead of only showing it their first time at a new polling place. This legislation would put that question to the voters and let them decide if that is a security measure they would like to put in place for future elections,” Wheeland added.

Currently, voters are required to show identification the first time they vote at a polling place. Senate Bill 735 and the companion bill, House Bill 1596, ask voters to decide if identification should be required every time a ballot is cast.

But Democrats, and the governor himself, have already expressed hesitation with the changes.

“Efforts to make it more difficult to cast a vote are in fact voter suppression,” State Senator Sharif Street (D) said.

“Not only will I veto any legislative efforts to roll back freedoms Pennsylvanian’s right now have, I will continue to push for changes that expand our access to the polls,” Wolf said.

Republicans plan to get around the governor by changing the Constitutional Amendments since they do not need the Governor’s approval, rather, the bills would go straight to the voters for their input.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that voters trust the election process and asking voters decide if requiring identification every time they vote will do just that,” Senator Ward said.

The plan was approved Tuesday, June 15, by the Senate State Government Committee.

“Election integrity has been eroded and it needs to be restored,” Senator Ward said. “Proposing that voters show verification not just the first time, but every time they vote, as a constitutional amendment allows Pennsylvanians to take the lead in how they want to further secure our election process.”

The bill will now be considered by the full Senate.

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