Wolf vetoes bill that would have eliminated straight-ticket voting

Tony Romeo
July 05, 2019 - 1:32 pm
Election official Mary Wickersham enters selections into a voting machine during a public accuracy testing of Election Day voting machines, Oct. 23, 2018 in Minnesota.

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images


HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a controversial bill Friday that would have eliminated the straight-party ticket option on voting machines. 

Senate Bill 48 — passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in the final days before summer recess — would have provided up to $90 million to counties to help cover the costs of Wolf’s mandate to replace voting machines. 

But also in that bill was language strongly opposed by Democrats, which aimed to eliminate the option of straight-ticket voting, thus requiring votes to be cast for each race separately. 

Wolf indicated his displeasure with elements of the bill in an interview last week.

"I’m looking for things that will make voting easier, not harder," he said, "so that’s the litmus test I will apply to this."

While the governor applauded the move to enhance voter security through funding and a paper trail, he said the other measure worries him ahead of an election with an anticipated large turnout.

"I’m concerned the isolated removal of a convenient voting option would increase waiting times and could discourage participation," he continued in a statement, adding that eliminating straight-ticket voting affects voters of any party affiliation. 

"Pennsylvania must secure its elections and provide real reform that makes it easier to vote. Senate Bill 48 makes changes to our elections that I do not believe strike the right balance to improve access to voters or security."

During a state House debate on the bill last week, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey of Philadelphia and other Democrats also argued strenuously against the measure.

"We need to focus on pushing for true convenience for every Pennsylvanian, and allowing for every voter to have the convenience and the option to vote straight party if they so choose," Kinsey echoed.

Wolf called the bill a "missed opportunity" to enact meaningful voting reforms.

The Republican sponsor of the bill, however, said Wolf caved to political pressure from national Democratic party operatives.