Bethlehem Press

Monday, September 16, 2019

ANOTHER VIEW

Monday, July 15, 2019 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Opinion

Wolf’s end run over voting machines

Last year, Governor Tom Wolf decreed that all 67 counties must have voting systems with voter-verifiable paper trails in time for next year’s presidential election. But on July 5, he vetoed a bill that would help them pay for it because it also eliminated straight-party voting. Now he’s attempting an end run. With no legislative authority, he’s attempting to borrow $90 million through the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA). Good luck with that!

Whether the PEDFA has authority to float bonds for voting machines is highly questionable. Wolf himself suggested that a legislative solution is preferable.

“It’s a proposal that we can move forward with, I think, and if there’s something that the Legislature wants to do that they think is better, again I’m all ears,” he told Pittsburgh Action News in an unrelated news conference.

According to House Republicans, Wolf has no authority under the state constitution to borrow or spend money unless it is authorized by the state legislature.

“It’s important to show good faith and that’s what I’m doing here,” Wolf said.

In addition to eliminating the straight-party vote, the legislation Wolf vetoed also extended the time for absentee ballots to be received and still counted by local elections offices. Every year, thousands of absentee ballots are rejected because they are not received by the Friday prior to an election.

“Our counties appreciate the governor finding a way forward that recognizes both the county need for funding assistance as well as the broad funding support we had in the General Assembly,” said Kathi Cozzone, president of the County Commissioner Association of Pennsylvania.