HARRISBURG, PA — The House State Government Committee, along strict party lines, yesterday voted out legislation (H.B. 1300) that would undo all progress that made voting more accessible for all Pennsylvanians and would make it harder, more chaotic and more expensive for the state and counties to run elections, according to the committee’s Democratic chairwoman, state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware.
Davidson said the legislation introduced by Republican Chairman Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, and approved by the majority on the committee 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, instead, focuses on hyper-partisan voter suppression initiatives like voter ID based on false claims of election fraud. She said best practices presented to the committee as seen in states like Kentucky, Ohio and Colorado were ignored. But the chaotic audit functions seen in states like Arizona are in the bill.
“This legislation is a march to destroy democracy, a dangerous abuse of power and a despicable use of the word integrity,” Davidson said. “I had hoped that this committee, this House Republican majority, would move beyond the settled 2020 election and Trump’s threats to those who would push back on his lies and instead look toward helping counties avoid extreme pressure on our next Election Day while ensuring voters’ ballot access and rights. But that is not the case here.”
She said one of the many punitive and ridiculous provisions in the bill would require voters to obtain a doctor’s note to prove their signature may have changed over time due to a medical condition.
“This bill presumes that every voter that comes to vote commits fraud, and it criminalizes voting in Pennsylvania before voting even happens,” Davidson said. “It is not based on democracy but on a dictatorship. It is based on the enraged feelings of sore losers.”
Davidson said the bill would shorten the time and ways voters have to exercise their constitutional rights but would give the General Assembly special standing and privileges to intervene when they don’t like an election result. She said the few good measures in the bill, such as electronic poll books and more convenience at the polls for disabled and elderly residents, still don’t use best practices as outlined by experts during the hearings and are overshadowed by provisions that would result in an extreme cost to Pennsylvanians in both tax dollars and their civil rights. She said it is telling that the Republican sponsors of the bill added a non-severability clause, making the entire massive Elections Code changes null and void even if one provision of the bill is found to be unconstitutional.
“The 2020 general election was free, fair, transparent and accurate and had the highest turnout in history,” Davidson said. “And even as the former president threatens Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania Senate, the House is moving forward to do his bidding and guarantee their power over elections when the results do not go for their candidates of choice,” Davidson said. “With this legislation, the gerrymandered Republican majority fully intends perpetuate the big lie, restrict the civil rights of Pennsylvanians and make voter suppression the law of the land.
“The full House should reject this bill as soon as it is put up for a vote.”
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