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.