(HARRISBURG) – I am disappointed that Governor Tom Wolf chose to give in to political pressure from national Democratic operatives and veto the election reform and voting machine funding bill. In doing so, Governor Wolf has turned his back on our County Commissioners from every county in the state. While County Commissioners expected that Governor Wolf would provide at least 50% of the funding for his voting machine mandate in his budget address this year, Governor Wolf called for providing barely 10% of the cost. SB 48 would have provided our cost conscious County Commissioners with 60% of the cost of these machines. Now as a direct result of Governor Wolf’s veto, County Commissioners and their county residents will be left paying for all of the Governor’s unfunded mandate. Any concern with the Commission that was included in SB 48 is a false concern. SB 48 was specifically amended to not be effective until December 31, 2019 so that it would not interfere with Governor Wolf’s directive that he has been talking about since February, 2018. It is certainly interesting that while he said in February 2018 that he needed to issue an order to decertify all of the voting machines in the state because of “security concerns”, he has not yet issued that final order. As a result, those machines that are a “security concern” have been used in most counties in the May 2018 election, the November 2018 election and the May 2019 election. Further, the make-up of the Commission is such that it would include 4 Democratic members, 4 Republican members, and 3 appointed by the Governor. So the Democratic members and the Governors appointees would control the majority of the membership. Further, SB48 says that the Commission would need to conclude its review within 180 days. It has been over 500 days since Governor Wolf said that he was going to decertify the voting machines and yet he still hasn’t issued this order. The real reason that Governor Wolf vetoed this bill today is because national and state Democratic operatives have threatened him that eliminating the straight party option in General elections would be problematic to Democratic candidates. This argument is being made even though there are only a few states left in the nation that still allow this option. And a number of states have eliminated this option just in the last decade. While this bill made other improvements to the absentee ballot process and the wasteful printing of excess county ballots, Governor Wolf vetoed this bill because of blatant political reasons —pure and simple. I might add that eliminating the straight party option was included in Senate Bill 421 introduced by Senator Lisa Boscola (D) and was reported out of the Senate State Government Committee and the full Senate with bipartisan support.
Senator John R. Gordner