Gov. Tom Wolf participates in a send-off ceremony on Sept. 5, 2019, in Annville, Lebanon County, as they prepare to mobilize for deployment to the Middle East. (Flickr/Office of Gov. Tom Wolf) The Governor and the National Guard
Gov. Tom Wolf participates in a send-off ceremony on Sept. 5, 2019, in Annville, Lebanon County, as they prepare to mobilize for deployment to the Middle East. (Flickr/Office of Gov. Tom Wolf)

Counties have asked for changes such as allowing precanvassing; they didn’t ask for voter ID.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-crafted elections bill Wednesday that would have mandated voter identification in all elections and made a host of other changes to election law.

Wolf said outside his Capitol offices that he considers the measure a voter suppression effort.

“I think voter suppression is absolutely the wrong thing to do,” Wolf said, adding that he would welcome a narrower bill that would give counties more time to start counting ballots and to provide more money to help them run elections.

The Republican elections bill, developed in large part in response to some GOP voters’ anger over President Donald Trump’s reelection loss, would have changed registration deadlines from 15 days to 30 days prior to an election. Mail-in voters would have had an earlier deadline to request ballots.

Asked if majority Republicans would pursue a more narrow bill to focus on elements such as precanvassing that are not divisive along partisan lines, House Republican spokesperson Jason Gottesman deferred to Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) who led the effort to develop the bill that Wolf vetoed.

Drop boxes for mail-in ballots would have been limited to being available for only seven days before an election and monitored by designees of the major political parties.

In a veto message issued Wednesday, Wolf said the bill was “incurably riddled with unacceptable barriers to voting,” including requiring voter IDs, new limits on mail-in voting, what he called an “arbitrary” signature matching process to verify voters and the drop box rules.

“This bill is ultimately not about improving access to voting or election security, but about restricting the freedom to vote,” Wolf said in the veto message. “If adopted, it would threaten to disrupt election administration, undermine faith in government and invite costly, time-consuming and destabilizing litigation.”

Wolf also used his line-item veto authority to eliminate $3.1 million in funding in separate budget legislation after Republican lawmakers claimed that it had been earmarked to create an election-auditing bureau under the independently elected auditor general.

Wolf had said there was no such agreement to use the money for an election-auditing bureau, which would have broad authority to subpoena materials and review elections.