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July 23, 2024 1:37 pm

Local News

Pa. House Republicans seek to move voter ID bill forward


John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
March 25, 2024

On Monday, Pennsylvania House Republican leadership announced they plan to file a discharge resolution to get a constitutional amendment for voter ID to the House floor for a vote, and ultimately to voters in November’s general election.

“Common sense tells us that more and more proposals, including the one introduced last week by House Democrats, are introduced to make our elections harder to administer and less secure and that simply requiring a state-provided identification at each election is the best way to enhance election security,” said House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster). 

Cutler referred to a proposal from Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton, that would change Pennsylvania’s voting rules to allow same-day voting and early voting.

House Bill 891, sponsored by state Reps. Torren Ecker (R-Adams) and Thomas Kutz (R-Cumberland), would amend Pennsylvania’s Constitution to require valid voter identification in order to vote in every election. This bill has been in the House State Government Committee since April 2023.

“Pennsylvania already has a voter ID law,” Ecker said Monday. “The first time you go to a precinct, the first time you go to vote, you need to provide voter ID. This legislation just enhances and strengthens what we already have.”

In October, the state House declined to advance a package of election reforms which included a voter ID requirement and a proposal to move the state’s presidential primary date from April 23 to mid-March. That vote failed 177-26

House Democrats pushed back, noting that every Republican voted against the October legislation.

“The constitution grants rights. It doesn’t and shouldn’t take away rights,” Elizabeth Rementer, Press Secretary for House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) said in an email Monday. “Therefore, any attempt to disenfranchise voters through a constitutional amendment is a non-starter for House Democrats. In addition, House Republicans had the opportunity to pass a voter ID provision through legislation but instead voted against it last October. This is nothing more than a political stunt.”

In order to use the discharge resolution for the bill to be brought up for a vote on the House floor, 50 members, 25 from each party, would need to sign it. Cutler said that 22 Democrats had previously voted in favor of voter ID and only “three more reasonable Democrats” would be needed to endorse the measure to bring it out of committee and on to the House floor for a vote.

In theory, if the attempt to bring it to the floor for a full vote is successful and passed by the legislature by early July, the question could be presented to the voters in November’s general election. But it’s not clear whether House Republicans would be able to garner enough support for the discharge resolution.

According to a co-sponsorship memo, the amendment includes language that “makes clear that both photo and non-photo options are acceptable forms of identification.” 

House Republicans said in a press release that the discharge petition resolution would be officially offered Monday in the House chamber.

House Republican caucus spokesperson Jason Gottesman confirmed to the Capital-Star that the discharge resolution was filed Monday, but a copy of the filing was not immediately available Tuesday from the House clerk’s office. The Capital-Star has filed a right-to-know request for the information.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.