Wheeland bill pushes for election changes, including voter ID
A piece of legislation to address election laws including voter ID requirements could be considered by the state House as early as this week.
State Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township, said Monday that House Bill 1596 was passed by the House State Government Committee.
Wheeland, sponsor of the bill, said it includes six constitutional amendments to update the state’s Election Code.
“There are 67 different counties and 67 different types of elections going on,” he said. “We got to get one playbook for the whole state.”
The proposed separate and distinct constitutional amendments include:
• Modernize the state Constitution to align with the U.S. Constitution.
• Enact voter ID requirements and strengthen voter registration requirements. It would include requiring county administrators to confirm an applicant’s eligibility prior to approving an application to register.
• Prohibit private financing of elections administration and require additional ballot security as well as public inspection of ballots after an election.
• Strengthen the uniformity requirements for election administration.
• Require robust and independent election audits conducted by the auditor general.
• Establish the Secretary of the Commonwealth as an elected position, as the chief elections officer is in the majority of states, to provide additional independence and professionalism to the elections process.
Wheeland said the bill is not about addressing charges of voter fraud.
Rather, it’s about fixing the election system.
“We have to get our act together,” he said. “There are so many issues with our election laws because they are so antiquated. The is to get our Constitution up to date.”
Wheeland conceded that many people have focused on voter ID and the need for requiring it to cast ballots.
He disagreed with the argument put forth by many Democrats and other opponents that ID requirements disproportionately prevent low-income, elderly and minority groups from casting ballots.
“That argument has so many holes in it, it doesn’t hold water anymore,” he said.
He noted that an overwhelming majority of people support having an ID to vote.
Overall, Wheeland said the state has simply been derelict in its duty to fix the Election Code.