HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Gov. Tom Wolf is joining a group of 17 governors to send a letter to U.S. Senate Leaders Charles Schumer and Mitch McConnell to urge Congress to protect voting rights by passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
“Without decisive action by the federal government this year to protect voters’ access to the ballot and ensure the integrity and transparency of our elections, the voices of Americans across the country, especially Americans of color, will be suppressed,” the letter states. “It is simply undemocratic for politicians to abuse their power and seek to pre-determine or even overturn our election results. Yet since the 2020 election, state legislators across 48 states have introduced nearly 400 bills to restrict Americans’ access to the ballot.”
“Even now, legislators in some states are pushing to rewrite election laws—some they themselves passed—simply because they did not like the outcome of the last election. These state-level efforts to limit access to the ballot undermine voting rights and create disparities across the country regarding voting access,” it continued.
The Freedom to Vote Act, sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D – Minn.) and introduced in Sept., addresses the problems with gerrymandering, election transparency, pushes back against voter suppression and protects poll workers from partisan harassment and attacks.
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The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, sponsored by Rep. Terri Sewell (D – AL), introduced in Aug. and passed to the Senate in Sept., would restore protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, ensure last-minute changes to voting do not negatively impact voters and strengthen the government’s ability to send federal officials to places where elections are facing threats of discrimination.
Gov. Wolf joined California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.
When striking down the Voting Rights Advancement Act through filibuster last month, top Republicans viewed it as “unnecessary” and that there doesn’t need to be someone watching over state and local governments. Republicans called the Freedom to Vote Act a selfish attempt to federalize elections when it was blocked in October.
Gov. Wolf vetoed legislation in Pa., HB 1300 or Voting Rights Protection Act, back in June. HB 1300 is an election reform bill introduced by Rep. Seth Grove (R – York), who says it “makes it easier to vote but harder to cheat.” Wolf responded saying it’s “unconscionable” and forms “barriers to voting in Pennsylvania and rolls back many of the bipartisan improvements made in Act 77 of 2019.” Rep. Grove says the bill was in favor by most of Pa. and is in response to lack of trust in the voting system.