HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have provided funding for voting machines but would also have eliminated straight party voting as a single-button ballot option.
“Pennsylvania must secure its elections and provide real reform that makes it easier to vote,” Wolf said. “Senate Bill 48 makes changes to our elections that I do not believe strike the right balance to improve access to voters or security. The bill weakens the ability of the commonwealth and counties to quickly respond to the security needs of voting systems in the future, creating unnecessary bureaucracy and potentially harmful delays.”
The governor has told counties they need to replace their voting machines with new equipment that provides a paper record of the vote by the 2020 election. Senate Bill 48 included a plan for the state to borrow $90 million to cover up to 60 percent of the cost of replacing voting machines.
But it also would have eliminated the option of voting for a straight party vote using a single vote instead of voting for each candidate.
Proponents of the change said Pennsylvania is one of only eight states that have single-party voting as an option on the ballot.
State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming County, said that getting rid of the straight party voting option would be a “good government” reform.
In debate in the state House, Democratic lawmakers said the change could disenfranchise minority voters who are used to voting with the straight-party option.
“As we approach an election with anticipated large turnout and new voting technology, I'm concerned the isolated removal of a convenient voting option would increase waiting times and could discourage participation,” Wolf said. “I repeatedly sought improvements to this bill that would ease access to voting and decrease waiting times, but those changes were not accepted.”