HARRISBURG – Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), a member of the House State Government Committee and co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Protection Act, today expressed discouragement over Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of the bill.
“This veto is a slap in the face to all Pennsylvanians who value their right to vote and to have those votes counted,” Owlett said. “This bill was a comprehensive measure that addressed security and accessibility of our elections, as well many of the challenges county officials asked us to fix to make the voting experience better for our citizens.
“The governor obviously has his own opinions, which he made clear by refusing to work with us on developing this legislation. However, we all hoped the hard work by the committee, testimony collected during our hearings, and polls showing bipartisan support for things like voter ID and signature verification would change his mind,” he continued. “The people of this Commonwealth recognize that protecting the integrity of our elections is vital to the future of our system of governance. A majority in the General Assembly do as well. Why doesn’t our governor?”
Owlett noted that as a member of the House State Government Committee, he participated in 10 hearings that assessed every aspect of the state’s elections, from voter registration through the counting of the ballots. The Voting Rights Protection Act would have addressed all of those by enhancing voter ID requirements, and providing an ID to ensure everyone could meet the requirement; expanding election audits; ensuring uniformity in the conduct of elections across counties; providing for early voting and correcting some defects on mail-in ballots; and offering counties more time to process registration applications and count ballots.
“Frankly, this bill was a compromise and the best deal the governor was going to get,” Owlett said. “I will be joining State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove in working to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that will allow the voters to have their say on the issue of voter ID as soon as possible.”
Owlett was also dismayed by the governor’s decision to line-item veto funding for a Bureau of Election Audits within the state Department of the Auditor General.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When you’re doing things right, there’s no reason to fear an audit,” Owlett said. “More importantly, if things aren’t quite right or there are ways to do things better, shouldn’t we want to know and act on that?
“The people deserve better, and I will continue to work to deliver that and restore public trust in our elections,” he concluded.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler