Partisan Elections Bill, Budget or COVID-19 Relief?

Rep. DavidsonRep. Davidson speaking out against H.B. 1300 (Submitted Image)

HARRISBURG, PA — A bill that opponents state would make it harder to vote in Pennsylvania passed the House Tuesday, largely along party lines, even as billions in COVID-19 relief dollars remain untouched and the state budget remains undone, according to state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware.

Davidson, who is Democratic chairwoman of the House State Government Committee from which the bill (H.B. 1300) came, said the legislation ignores many of the voter- and county-focused measures to improve Pennsylvania’s elections process that were discussed in 10 public hearings held by the committee earlier this year and supported by voting advocates and county officials. She said the suggestions of 50 testifiers were dismissed to accommodate the hyper-partisan voter suppression schemes of two testifiers based on false claims of election fraud, including strict and excessive voter ID requirements and the removal of a substantial number of the drop boxes Pennsylvanians relied on to safely vote in the last three elections.

“This legislation is a march to destroy democracy, presuming that every voter that comes to vote commits fraud, which we know is patently false,” Davidson said. “We should be passing legislation that would help counties avoid extreme pressure on our next election day while ensuring voters’ ballot access and rights. This bill is nothing more than an attempt to suppress votes. It is incredibly and, in fact, undemocratic.”

Davidson attempted to amend the bill on Monday to remove those provisions she interprets as voter suppression tactics, like proof of identity, and include a provision that would allow counties seven days to pre-canvass ballots, something county election officials and voting experts who testified during the committee’s 10 public hearings said was genuinely needed. It failed along party lines.

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“Pennsylvanians are working hard to rebuild after a devastating year of COVID-19 and need their government to appropriate billions in federal COVID-relief dollars to assist in that effort,” Davidson said. “Instead of meeting their needs, the Republican majority in Harrisburg is pushing divisive bills that have no bearing on the economy or economic recovery from COVID-19. It is a sad truth all Pennsylvanians should make note of.

“Voting rights are serious, and in our country’s history, voting is deadly, rife with examples of when we don’t get voting laws right,” Davidson said. “House Bill 1300 makes it harder for people to vote and easier for political schemers to cheat. It does not get voting right. We cannot allow voter suppression to be among the laws of our nation.

“Governor Wolf has said he will veto this bill, and rightly so,” she said.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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