Facts are Stubborn Things…Especially When it Comes to Election Law
By Rep. Seth Grove (R-York)

Recently, the Tribune-Review penned an editorial entitled: Why Won’t GOP Lawmakers Fix the Voting Law They Don't Like? In this article, the editorial board insinuated that Republicans in the General Assembly run to courts to “fix” the issues they do not like in Pennsylvania’s elections laws. This is not factually accurate.

Act 77 of 2019 was an agreement between Gov. Tom Wolf, House Republicans and Senate Republicans. After Wolf decertified most county voting machines, he requested funding after realizing the financial implications of his ill-advised decision. Wolf vetoed the first attempt by the General Assembly to offset the counties’ costs of purchasing new election machines in June of 2019. After Wolf received significant political blow back from this next ill-advised decision, Act 77 was born by combining some policy requests from House Republicans, Senate Republicans and county governments.

After the 2020 Primary election, the General Assembly and Wolf agreed to make some changes to Act 77 of 2019 through Act 12 of 2020, which included a pre-canvass process starting at 7 a.m. on election day.

In the summer of 2020, the Democratic Party, and the Wolf administration - not Republicans in the General Assembly - went to work changing our election laws through the courts:

  o   Democratic Party v. Boockvar
  o   Wolf administration creation of:
  •   Drop boxes
  •   Satellite offices (early voting centers)
  o   Elimination of signature verification
  o   Department of State guidance directing counties to “cure” ballots

These were major changes, not included in any law, sought by the Democratic Party and the Wolf administrative through the courts. After Republicans in the General Assembly negotiated Act 77 in good faith, Wolf teamed up with Democratic interest groups to seek judicial imposition of these policy changes they had wanted in Act 77 but hadn’t negotiated.

After the 2020 election, the House State Government Committee held 10 election oversight hearings, the most comprehensive election law review in the country. These hearings revealed numerous internal control failures and the need for numerous election changes to improve the administration of elections as requested by counties, county election directors, the Department of State, election stakeholder groups, and legislators from both parties.

These extensive hearings resulted in the creation of House Bill 1300, the most comprehensive election reform proposal in the country, developed to modernize our antiquated election laws while increasing access and improving security throughout the entire election process. During the hearings, we heard repeatedly that access and security are not mutually exclusive, and that election laws should make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. Wolf vetoed the bill despite not reading it, rejected continued efforts by myself and other Republicans to negotiate a compromise, and has continued to side with national interests over the needs of Pennsylvanians.

Fast forward to the undated ballots soap opera. Act 77 of 2019 was clear: undated mail-in ballots are to be set aside and not counted. Even the Democratic-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court concurred twice on this fact and the Department of State even sent the Philadelphia County Board of Elections an email stating that the law was clear, and that undated ballots could not be counted. But the Democratic Party filed suit to eliminate this provision. Ironically, this issue would have been remedied had Wolf just read and signed House Bill 1300. Most election issues we have continued to suffer from would have been remedied by the adoption of House Bill 1300.

As you can see, Republicans have repeatedly tried to address election law changes by changing the law, unlike the Democrats who have changed our election laws through the courts. Facts matter and stating that the GOP wants to change election laws through the courts is a wholesale non-fact.

Representative Seth Grove
196th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Greg Gross
RepGrove.com / Facebook.com/RepSethGrove