How can the voting reform bill suppress the vote when it did everything to encourage voters?


July 9 – Governor Tom Wolf recently vetoed a voting reform bill that not only took legislators a lot of time to create, but was also quite comprehensive.


And yet, it still got the ax. 


State Representative Jesse Topper joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen this morning on First News to discuss voting in PA. 


Topper said the voting reform bill “had been looked on by outside groups as one of the most comprehensive and quite frankly security-driven election reform bills in the country. People have asked why aren’t you doing what Arizona’s doing, Georgia’s doing, all these other states? This is actually going beyond that. It used Florida as one of the main models. The difference with those states is they have governors that will sign those bills into law. There was actually a lot in this bill that had even been asked from the administration in terms of access. The idea that this was a voting suppression bill was lunacy. There was only one part this bill that the governor focused on and that’s what we thought was one of the most important ingredients in the whole thing and that was voter identification. You need IDs to do so many things in this state and this nation. This legislation even provided the ID for everybody. They were going to get an issued, for free, identification that they could use. I think it was just about making a political statement. I think the governor is completely satisfied to simply let the courts determine election law moving forward and not the legislature and that’s why he vetoed it.”


Jansen said, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it even was very, very generous in terms of somebody showing up without ID and what they could do. They could still vote provisionally. It made every effort that somebody would not be stopped from voting. And there was a lot of allowances for what the ID even could be if I’m not mistaken.”


Topper said, “There’s always going to be provisional ballots. Nobody has ever been nor will ever be not permitted to submit a ballot. If it’s done provisionally and it looks like you were not supposed to be able to vote then that vote doesn’t count, but the idea that people are being turned away at polling places either before or after this bill is utter nonsense. 


Jansen said there’s also “a bill, Republican sponsored I believe or at least supported, to allow non-citizens to get driver’s license and I understand the idea that you want them to be safe and have insurance and that kind of thing, but is there any concerns or worry of the crossing over between people who don’t understand they’re not allowed to vote and this might make them think they can or make people at voting precincts think they can?”


Topper said, “I have concerns obviously with that legislation as it is now. I understand the intent of what the sponsors are trying to get to. It’s really a safety issue. Especially for our farms. We are trying to come up with a solution. I think we have to be very careful. There’s a difference between immigration and illegal immigration. If something is breaking the law then we can’t enable it through other legal methods. We have to figure out a comprehensive way…where we can make sure that people are here legally and can stay legally and therefore operate these vehicles legally. I think there’s got to be a lot of work to that bill and I’m sure there will be.”