Pennsylvania GOP Voter Suppression Attempt Stopped By Governor

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Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania state legislature that would have allowed any registered voter to serve as a poll watcher anywhere in the state. Currently, poll watchers may only serve in the counties where they’re registered to vote.

“This legislation does nothing to increase access to voting,” Wolf remarked in his veto message addressed to the state Senate. “Instead, this bill undermines the integrity of our election process and encourages voter intimidation.” The current legal standard for where a poll watcher may work “is important because poll watchers who live in the county are generally familiar with the voting district in which they are serving,” Wolf added. Changing that process as the bill Wolf vetoed would have done would allow “bad faith partisan operatives to target a specific neighborhood or group of voters in an attempt to challenge the eligibility of voters, make poll workers’ jobs more difficult, and disrupt the counting of ballots,” Wolf added. Quite simply, allowing for such a thing would have been bonkers and no doubt a major on-the-ground threat to the local handling of elections. The bill would have basically legalized a form of voter intimidation.

It’s not that difficult to imagine that a band of delusional Trump sycophants in Pennsylvania could get it in their heads to target a particular area — far away from where they actually live — with aggressive (even if technically legal) “poll watching” in response to completely imaginary election fraud. The bill would have legalized such a thing. The bill was sponsored by Trump ally and election conspiracy theorist state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), who’s the GOP pick for governor in the ongoing race to replace Wolf, who’s departing at the end of his current term. Mastriano claimed that his aggressive, ambitious bill — which contained other provisions to supposedly empower poll watchers — was simply in response to documented problems.

“Transparency is the key to rebuilding trust in our election system, and that starts with ensuring all parties have a fair opportunity to view the vote-counting process,” he claimed. “We saw numerous problems in previous elections where poll watchers were denied access to a polling place even with a legal certificate. We also saw issues where poll watchers were so far away from the ballot pre-canvassing process that they were forced to use binoculars. That is simply unacceptable.” Even assuming Mastriano’s description of poll watchers getting denied access despite holding a legal certificate apparently allowing them to be there is accurate, it would be ridiculous for his response to be formulating a bill that could allow roving bands of incompetent election fraud hunters to roam Pennsylvania and serve as poll watchers.

Mastriano’s election-related conspiracies mean he’s simply not a remotely credible source for what’s actually going on with the electoral process. Other measures included in his bill included an increase in the number of poll watchers that individual political parties could have at a single precinct. The number would’ve gone from two to three, pointlessly increasing the partisan presence in the electoral process.