HARRISBURG - With talks on wider election-related legislation at a standstill, Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday that his position on expanding Pennsylvania's voter identification requirements has not changed, and that he is against anything that would "suppress the vote."
An expansion of Pennsylvania's voter ID requirements became one of the many aims of Republican lawmakers in wider-ranging election legislation that Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed last month.
When Wolf vetoed that bill June 30, he cited a list of reasons, including imposing additional voter ID restrictions, adding "excessive and burdensome" requirements on mail-in voting and setting earlier deadlines to register to vote and apply for a mail-in ballot.
Hours later, at a news conference, he said, "we can have that conversation" about whether Pennsylvania's existing voter ID requirements are enough.
On Thursday, he said, "I'm willing to have a conversation about voting reform, and I’m not sure what form that takes. ... But if you’re trying to suppress the vote, that’s just a nonstarter for me. If you want to increase access to the polls, if you want to make our democracy stronger, I’m all for it."
Asked if he has seen any way of expanding Pennsylvania's voter ID law that he does not view as being more restrictive or suppressing the voter, he said, "I haven't seen any."
The voter ID provision in the vetoed legislation would have narrowed the forms of identification that qualify, particularly non-photo IDs, eliminating government checks, paychecks, utility bills and bank statements that are current.
It also would have required every in-person voter to show a qualifying form of ID every time they vote. Currently, Pennsylvania's in-person photo ID law applies to a person voting in a particular precinct for the first time.
However, the bill would have added several qualifying forms, including commissioning the Department of State to create free photo IDs for any voter who requests one and for counties to issue scannable voter cards to each voter.
The bill also had one other provision, an affidavit, that some other states use, but would have been new to Pennsylvania.
Under that provision, if a voter shows up to vote and does not have ID, they can opt for an affidavit that they must sign and put down the last four digits of their Social Security number.
"The idea isn’t to turn anyone way, it’s to validate," said state Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, the bill's chief sponsor.