Voter ID Fails After House Republicans Refuse to Support Popular Mail In Voting Reforms

Election workers perform a recount of ballots from the recent Pennsylvania primary election at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse in Pittsburgh on June 1, 2022. Elections officials in a central Pennsylvania county were scrambling Monday, April 17, 2023, to fix an error on more than 18,000 mail-in ballots for the spring primary, when voters will elect judges for the state Supreme Court and other positions. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

By Sean Kitchen

October 5, 2023

A bill to change Pennsylvania’s primary date for the 2024 presidential election failed on the House floor. The bill contained amendments to enact voter ID provisions and make it easier to vote by mail.

House Republicans’ last-minute voter ID addition to a bill to change the date of Pennsylvania’s primary led to the demise of the bill.

They added the voter identification amendment on Thursday to Senate Bill 224, which would set Pennsylvania’s primary date for the 2024 presidential election to March 19, 2024.

Later in the evening, House Democrats amended the bill for a second time in the Appropriations Committee by a party-line 22 to 15 vote and made additions to make it easier to vote by mail. This included pre-canvassing, which allows counties to count mail-in ballots prior to Election Day, the removal of postage requirements and adding voters to a permanent list to obtain mail-in ballots.

The bill went on to fail 177-26 on Thursday. Republicans were furious with the changes to the bill during debate on the floor and at a press conference following Thursday’s rare session day.

“I rise to oppose this midnight manipulation as it paves the way for dead people voting, once again,” State Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland) said on the House floor.

“This is an outright attack on election integrity. Picture it. Boxes of ballots brought out and counted again and again until a given party’s candidate wins. This is wrong if it would happen on either side of the aisle. We all know boxes of ballots brought out and counted in past elections and that destroyed our state’s belief in the election system.”

Republicans like Neilson continue to spread disinformation about the vote by mail system as statewide leaders in the party try to get their voters to embrace the method of voting.

Lawrence Tabas, chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, recently appeared in a video posted to X, the social media outlet formerly known as Twitter, asking Republican voters to apply for their mail-in ballots.

“I really think it gives everyone a feel for what it would take to get a Voter ID passed, and I think we saw what the Republicans put forward. What those votes are. Obviously those votes dried up pretty quickly,” Majority Leader Matthew Bradford (D-Philadelphia) told the press following Thursday’s vote.

Bradford placed the bill’s failure at the feet of Republicans for not being able to get the 102 votes needed to get the bill over the finish line.

When asked about House Republicans’ failure to embrace vote by mail when other parts of the party are moving forward, Bradford said, “You’re asking for rational actors on an issue, where, frankly, our Republican friends, when it comes to election code, have had a really tough time keeping it together.”

“Voter ID has been their white whale since Donald Trump kinda started us down this road. Like the dog that caught the car. They finally got their amendment and then they saw what it would take to get it anything like 102. Their votes evaporated.”



  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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