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Republicans in Pennsylvania's state House passed a bill aimed at shoring up election integrity despite a looming veto threat from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
House Bill 1300, approved along party lines by a margin of 112-89 on Tuesday, provides for "voting system defects, disclosure, investigations and penalties" and establishes the "Bureau of Election Audits," among other provisions Democrats, including Wolf, found objectionable as the state moves toward conducting an Arizona-style audit of its 2020 presidential election results.
"I want election reform, too. But House Bill 1300 isn't it," Wolf tweeted on Wednesday. "The lawmakers behind this bill are the same ones who asked Congress to throw out PA votes and whose lies directly contributed to the Jan. 6 insurrection. I will veto this bill if it reaches my desk in its current form."
Democrats in the state Legislature agreed, arguing it was Republicans who tried to cheat the system.
"The 2020 election was safe and secure. Every voter who tried to vote for their dead mother was caught – and those were Republican voters," House Democratic Policy Chairman Ryan Bizzarro said in a press release. "The current system is safe, secure and it works. We should be listening to the Republican and Democratic election officials statewide that asked for legislative fixes to address allowing them to securely process votes in an efficient manner with things like pre-canvassing and extended time for processing."
State Rep. Joe Ciresi, also a Democrat, alleged the legislation's goal is to "remove voters from the registers, plain and simple."
"From allowing blanket challenges to the validity of a person’s registration, to eliminating the permanent mail in ballot list, to signature verification with untested software, House Bill 1300 suppresses the vote," he added.
Republicans applauded the measure as a step toward election integrity.
"The Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act is a tremendous step forward in restoring faith in our election system and supporting local election officials. I was proud to stand up and speak in favor of this bill tonight," Rep. Kerry Benninghoff tweeted.
Rep. Seth Grove, the legislation's sponsor, said he "look[s] forward to this bill quickly being taken up in the Senate so voters will have more accessibility when casting ballots in even more secure elections."
"No matter how voters cast ballots, they must have trust in the election process, know their votes were counted and that there was no interference," he added.
Republicans in the state Legislature have recently signaled openness to conducting a forensic audit of the state's 2020 presidential election results in the same mold as the audit in Arizona. Last week, state Sen. David Argall, who heads a committee that oversees elections, told local news outlets that he favored such an audit, despite officials insisting the election was secure.
"There are a lot of things under consideration right now, and I told them to check back in a week or two, and we hope to have some more detail," he said after meeting with audit-supporting activists on Thursday.
Like Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who argued the state's audit of Maricopa County is not designed to overturn the 2020 results but rather to shore up election integrity, Argall said a Pennsylvania audit would not be aimed at changing November's results.
"The Electoral College has spoken. You know the president has been sworn in. I understand that's a reality," he said.
Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania, as well as other swing states such as Georgia and Wisconsin, have traveled to Arizona to tour the audit at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix and learn more about the process.
Following the visit, Georgia initiated an investigation into allegations surrounding the 2020 presidential election, with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger confirming to the Washington Examiner that his office will be looking into Fulton County's monitoring of absentee ballots returned in drop boxes in the election following "new revelations" that officials said they were missing ballot transfer documents.
Earlier this month, former President Donald Trump, who narrowly lost the state of Pennsylvania to President Joe Biden, warned Argall by name to conduct an audit mirroring Arizona's after the legislators' visit.
"Great patriots led by State Senator Doug Mastriano, Senator Cris Dush, and State Representative Rob Kauffman went to Maricopa County, Arizona, to learn the best practices for conducting a full Forensic Audit of the 2020 General Election. Now the Pennsylvania Senate needs to act," Trump said in a tweemail. "Senate President Jake Corman needs to fulfill his promise to his constituents to conduct a full Forensic Audit. Senator Dave Argall, Chairman of the State Government Committee, has to authorize the subpoenas, if necessary. The people of Pennsylvania and America deserve to know the truth. If the Pennsylvania Senate leadership doesn’t act, there is no way they will ever get re-elected!"
Argall won reelection to a four-year term in the Senate in 2020.
The Maricopa County audit's results are expected to be released in a comprehensive report sometime later this summer, according to Senate audit liaison and former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett.
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Original Author: Carly Roman
Original Location: Pennsylvania House passes election reform bill despite veto threat