For months, Pa. Democrats, led by Governor Tom Wolf, have railed against Republican sponsored election security bills, in particular targeting proposed rules to require ID to vote. In June, Wolf wrote that “this bill is ultimately not about improving access to voting or election security, but about restricting the freedom to vote.” This month, however, Gov. Wolf reversed his position, expressing for the first time support for voter ID laws in some form.
This shift comes as a slew of polls shows a bipartisan majority of voters support voter ID and signature verification laws.
“I’m sure out there, [there] is a reasonable voter ID solution to say… you need to show that you should be voting here,” Wolf said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He went on to criticize the elections overhaul championed by state Republicans, saying that it “was not it.” Wolf had previously called the Republican election reform bill “an extremist proposal.”
In June, Wolf vetoed the Voting Rights Protection Act (HB 1300), which would have required all voters to show ID at the polls, required signature verification for mail in ballots, and prohibited counties from accepting private donations for election administration, among other things.
According to the Associated Press, Wolf said his position on voter ID laws “has not changed”.
Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has tweeted multiple times that the Republican sponsored election reform legislation constituted “attacks on voting rights,” aimed at black and brown people.
“It’s like Jim Crow 2.0 and we can’t let it succeed,” Shapiro tweeted.
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who is preparing for a Senate race, called voter fraud “a fiction”, and said that election reform efforts were “insidious” and “unnecessary”.
Similarly, Pennsylvania’s senior Senator, Bob Casey, said during an interview on MSNBC that Republican led election reform efforts “are really just about white supremacy.”
“You have a group of Americans, organized Republicans and white supremacists, who don’t like the [2020 election] result, because … black voters in America allowed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to win, and bring about a Democratic majority in the Senate,” Casey continued.
But Shapiro, Casey and Fetterman are staying mum as Gov. Wolf has shifted along with other Democrats nationally — foremost among them Stacey Abrams — to support voter ID, in response to polls showing wide, bipartisan support for ID-to-vote measures. None of these statewide elected officials responded to a request for comment from Broad + Liberty for this story.
Elected Democrats have not publicly distinguished between the hypothetical “reasonable voter ID solution” they would support, and Republican led efforts to reform the state’s election laws.
Over the past weeks, Gov. Wolf was pulled away from the negotiating table after receiving criticism from other Democrats on his left flank. Wolf backed off any suggestion at working with the Republican-controlled state legislature on election reform efforts.
Joe Silverstein is the summer Editorial Intern at Broad + Liberty. He is a rising senior at Cornell University, where he studies Government and International Relations. Silverstein serves as the current Editor in Chief of the Cornell Review.