Anti-Voter Package Moving Quickly Through Pennsylvania Legislature

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Bill will cost almost $92 million, which “could be spent improving the lives of Pennsylvanians – rather than funding legislation that will make it harder for us to vote.”

The Pennsylvania House has just passed HB 1300, a package of voting law changes that includes provisions to make voting more difficult, particularly for Black, Brown and low income voters. The bill is being rushed through the legislative process, without time for careful deliberation or public input. It was passed out of committee less than a week after it was introduced, and was significantly amended yesterday. The Senate is expected to vote on the package in ‘the next few days.’ Legislating in this fashion is detrimental to the future of our Commonwealth and our democracy.

Statement of Khalif Ali, Executive Director of Common Cause Pennsylvania

The right to vote should be held sacred. It is unacceptable that this wholly partisan legislation is being used to undermine Pennsylvanian’s access to the ballot box in the name of “election integrity”. Our government ‘by the people’ is stronger when more people participate in it and HB 1300 would limit that participation, particularly among Black, young and new voters.

We’ve known for months that well-funded special interests are running a campaign to change voting laws around the country, in ways that make it harder for Black, Brown and low-income people to vote.

But a video leaked last month ‘made it real.’ The executive director of one of those special interest groups was bragging to donors about their campaign to draft and pass legislation that restricts voting access. And one of the states specifically mentioned in the video was Pennsylvania.

HB 1300 makes it clear that Pennsylvanians are the latest targets in the nationwide cynical, anti-democratic attempt by partisan operatives to make it harder for all of us to make our voices heard at the ballot box. Provisions like: Requiring all voters to show voter ID. Shortening the period to request mail ballots. Eliminating the permanent mail voting list by requiring voters to re-apply for mail ballots for each and every election. Placing limitations on dropboxes that voters have come to rely on as a method of returning their ballot, are all frighteningly familiar. 

To add insult to injury, today we found out the pricetag for HB 1300: almost $92 million in this upcoming year. That’s $92 million that could be invested in our children’s educations, spent on infrastructure, or used to help care for our senior citizens. That’s $92 million that could be spent improving the lives of Pennsylvanians and strengthening our democracy – rather than funding legislation that will make it harder for us to vote.

When we send our elected officials to Harrisburg, we expect them to represent us – their constituents, not special interests. Pennsylvanians want and deserve election reform that ensures that our democracy works for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or zipcode because our government ‘by the people’ works better when more people participate. HB 1300 is not that reform.

      

Read Common Cause Pennsylvania’s testimony on an earlier version of HB 1300 here