Wolf approves election reform bill

Regional

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf signed an election reform bill into law on Thursday morning.

​The reforms include $90 million to partially reimburse counties for the cost of new voting machines, a mail-in voting option, pushing the voter registration deadline to 15 days before an election rather than the current 30 days, and pushing back the deadline for returning absentee ballots to 8 p.m. on Election Day, rather than 5 p.m. the Friday before.

​”These changes will make it easier for people to vote,” Wolf said. “It shouldn’t matter why you can’t get to the polls. I only care that you have the chance to cast your ballot.”

Sixty-one representatives and 14 senators voted against the bill.  Most of those no votes were Democrats.​​ One primary cause of concern is a provision that eliminates the straight-party voting option.

​”People know what the parties stand for and what the parties stand against,” said state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), who voted against the bill. “And they want the ease and convenience to be able to vote for the parties that best reflect their values.”​​

As of next year, only seven states will still have a straight-party voting option.​​

The new law will go into effect before the 2020 primary election.​

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