A poll from Franklin & Marshall College indicates a majority of residents support voter ID laws and signature verification on ballots.
In a survey of 444 registered voters, 59% supported revising Pennsylvania’s election laws, though a more specific review of the data shows 75% of Republicans and 52% of independents believe changes are necessary compared with only 46% of Democrats.
Researchers interviewed the respondents from June 7-13 and said 205 voters identified as Democrats, 177 as Republicans and 62 as independents. The margin of error was 6.4%.
Political affiliation skewed the results in a similar pattern regarding respondents’ attitude on more specific elements of the Republican reform plan, House Bill 1300, introduced in the General Assembly earlier this week.
Some 95% of Republicans and 79% of independents believed all voters should show a photo ID before casting a ballot compared with 47% of Democrats. Another 94% of Republicans and 88% of independents agreed that election workers should verify signatures on mail-in ballots match voter registration records, compared with 64% of Democrats.
Republicans and independents also expressed broad support for a voter registration deadline of 30 days before an election, while fewer than half of Democrats agreed.
Democrats and independents, however, appeared more aligned when it came to precanvassing and mail-in ballots. The two groups of respondents agree that election workers should begin processing ballots ahead of Election Day by 80% and 69%, respectively. More than half of respondents in each group agreed that no-excuse mail-in ballots should remain in effect, too.
Some 95% of Republicans and 79% of independents believed all voters should show a photo ID before casting a ballot compared with 47% of Democrats.
More than half of Republican respondents, however, wanted to repeal the policy while only 39% support precanvassing. HB 1300 would provide for a five-day processing period for election workers.
The results came the same day Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated his disdain for the Republican-backed plan. He said during a news conference Thursday in Delaware County that now is a “watershed moment” for voting rights.
“There are two forces in our country: those fighting to protect our democracy and those trying to undermine it,” he said. “I stand on the side of democracy, in support of Pennsylvanians’ freedom to vote.”
The governor long has opposed strengthened voter ID laws, such as the policy included HB 1300 that would require proof of identification at each and every election. He also said the bill’s extra mandates on ballot drop boxes, its “arbitrary” signature matching rule and insufficient time for residents to fix deficient ballots are just some “of the unacceptable barriers to silence voters” it contains.
Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, who authored the bill after he chaired a series of 10 election administration hearings in the House State Government Committee, said he’s willing to negotiate on the proposal but can’t get the governor or anyone in his administration to call him back.
Grove even penned an open letter to Wolf on Wednesday, requesting a meeting to hash out their differences.
“For you to not engage in the finalization of this legislation puts Pennsylvania voters at a significant disadvantage as we seek to make our election laws a national model,” Grove said in the closing of his letter. “My phone is on, my door is open, and I welcome your reply and good faith effort in working for the benefit of Pennsylvania voters to craft final legislation.”
The lawmaker said if a compromise can’t be reached by the end of the month – the same time frame during which the General Assembly will approve the state’s annual spending plan – the effort will move to the back burner as lawmakers address other priorities, such as congressional redistricting. He said his colleagues also remain wary of implementing sweeping election code changes during the 2022 campaign cycle, which will feature open races for the U.S. Senate and the governor.
Wolf minced few words in his public response Thursday.
“I will not be lectured on the importance of election integrity by the same people who wrote a letter begging Congress to throw out Pennsylvanians’ lawfully cast votes only a few months ago,” he said.
Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.
This article was republished with permission from The Center Square