Pennsylvania Senate Passes Anti-Voter Bill

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Common Cause Pennsylvania Thanks Gov. Tom Wolf for his Promise to Veto It

The Pennsylvania Senate 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 has been 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; significantly amended just before being passed by the House, three days ago. 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

Pennsylvania’s State Senate took just three days to consider HB 1300, the anti-democratic, anti-voter bill that would drastically restrict access to the ballot, before passing it today.

A bill that’s 154 pages, that would affect our entire voting system – and within three days, Senate leadership has pushed it through, without amendments or any opportunity for second thoughts.

We know that this type of legislation is a priority of partisan operatives who are seeking to undermine our democracy. There’s video of one special interest group director crowing to donors about her ability to get a bill through, in Georgia. We’ve read that the group planned a $24 million campaign to pass these types of bills through state legislatures around the country.

And we’ve just watched a bill get passed in Pennsylvania, incorporating the same types of provisions that the anti-democratic special interests want.

This has not been a good day for democracy in Pennsylvania. Today, our government ‘of the people’ has acted to silence ‘the people.

We’ve also found out more about how much this bill is going to cost Pennsylvania taxpayers. The fiscal note released today quantified almost $99 million in one-time costs – plus ongoing, annual costs of almost $19 million. 

That’s an awful lot of taxpayer money for the Legislature to spend, to implement a bill that will make it harder for us to cast ballots and have our voices heard.

In Pennsylvania, in the Cradle of Liberty, in the middle of budget season, after all the economic dislocation caused by COVID: it’s unconscionable that our legislators want to prioritize creating barriers to the ballot box. There are so many other ways that money could be spent.

To make matters worse, this bill creates a future obligation to spend $19 million each and every year, even when the budget isn’t so flush. A stark contrast to the budget proposed today that Republican leadership says will “secure our fiscal future.”   

All that money to create anti-voter provisions like those the partisan operative group was telling their donors about.

Our government by and for ‘We the People’ – remember? The government that was created here. The Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, the ideals and deliberations that created our government ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.’

In our government, elected officials are supposed to represent ‘the people’ – not partisan operatives.

In our government, every person’s voice is supposed to be heard, and every voter’s ballot counted.

In our government, the people are supposed to elect the politicians – the politicians aren’t supposed to create barriers in the way of voters casting ballots.

Today, too many Senators forgot who they are supposed to be working for.

Common Cause Pennsylvania continues to oppose HB 1300, and we thank Governor Wolf for his promise to quickly veto it.

Read the June 22 press release about HB 1300 here.

Read Common Cause Pennsylvania’s testimony about the earlier version of HB 1300 here.