Republicans’ Ongoing Attack on Voting Rights and Democracy

Republicans in state legislatures across the country continue in their blatant attempts to destabilize our democratic systems by spreading disinformation about the 2020 election and passing bills that place new restrictions on voting - and, to no one’s surprise, Pennsylvania is leading the charge!

It’s not enough that the GOP-controlled PA Legislature spent more than $1 million of the taxpayers’ money on futile efforts to overturn President Biden’s victory in November. Pennsylvania Republicans continue to make patently false claims that vote-by-mail can’t be trusted and that there was widespread fraud involving fake IDs during the 2020 election. Their so-called Voting Rights Protection Act (H.B.1300), which was vetoed by Governor Wolf this past June, was crafted to roll back several election reforms that were passed by both houses in 2019 - election reforms that were supported at the time by both PA Democrats and Republicans!

Don’t be fooled by the Republicans’ disingenuous claim that their goal is to improve voter confidence by removing so-called “election irregularities.” H.B.1300 is simply another bill in a long line of GOP-led legislation aimed at making it more difficult and inconvenient for people to vote. They hope to accomplish this by:

  • Requiring every voter to present ID at the polls every time they vote;

  • Requiring signature verification for mail ballots, in addition to requiring voters to provide two separate forms of identification with their requests for a mail ballot;

  • Moving the deadline to register to vote from 15 to at least 30 days before Election Day, giving new voters less time to register;

  • Moving the deadline to request mail ballots from 7 to at least 15 days before Election Day, giving voters less time to request a mail-in or absentee ballot;

  • Eliminating the permanent mail voting list; and

  • Limiting the use of ballot return drop boxes to just 7 days before Election Day and requiring drop boxes be staffed by two inspectors to check the identification of voters returning their ballots. If one or both inspectors are not physically present at the drop box location, the box will be locked and rendered unusable for ballot returns.

With their battle to suppress voting lost (for now), the PA Republicans are going back to their old playbook of claiming there was rampant voter ID fraud in the 2020 election. On September 15, they voted to subpoena Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration for information on all registered voters in the 2020 general and 2021 primary election, including names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, last four digits of Social Security numbers, and addresses, as well as the same information broken down by method of voting.

Democrats in the PA Senate quickly responded by suing to block the subpoena in Commonwealth Court, the state court that handles government issues. The lawsuit contends that the subpoena violates state election laws and tramples the rights of Pennsylvania voters by allowing the unlawful disclosure of their private information found within the state voter database. This was the first court attempt by Democrats to stop what Republican senators call a “forensic investigation” or “forensic audit” of election administration and results - like what Arizona’s legislature is attempting. (One glaring difference is that Arizona’s bogus “forensic audit” is funded with private money, while Pennsylvania Republicans expect theirs to be funded by taxpayers!)

So once again, the GOP-controlled Legislature is wasting our time and money as they complain about the presidential election their party lost - fair and square! - while the real needs of Pennsylvanians go unheeded.