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Republican Election Reform Package Brings Swift Reaction From Democrats

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- State House Republicans unveiled a 149-page election reform package that Democrats say will limit the voting rights of many Pennsylvanians.

Republican Seth Grove, chair of the House State Government Committee, said after 30 hours of testimony this spring, his bill – The Voting Rights Protection Act – will make voting more secure. Democrats say it is designed to make it harder to vote under the pretext that fraud denied Donald Trump a win in Pennsylvania.

"It's interesting that my colleagues across the aisle are creating problems that don't exist," said Democratic House Leader Joanna McClinton. "We haven't seen any voter fraud in our commonwealth."

Among its many provisions, the bill would require a voter ID at the polls, voters to apply each election for a mail-in ballot, signature verification for mail-in ballots and move the voter registration deadline to 30 days before the election. The bill would also establish a Bureau of Election Audits in the Auditor General's Office.

"Right now, the post-election audits are done by the counties themselves," said Grove. "We know that audits are supposed to be independent. That's the big thing with audits. It's an independent review of performance or data or information. So the goal here is to provide that confidence. We are actually going to do an independent audit."

"We do not need a Bureau of Election Audits. One of the things I'm waiting for my colleagues across the aisle to do is end the big lie, which reeked so much terror and havoc and a deadly attack on our United States Capitol," said McClinton.

McClinton said some provisions of the Republican bill could win bipartisan support, like allowing counties to pre-canvas or start processing mail ballots five days before Election Day and allowing counties to open satellite election offices and prove five days of early in-person voting.

But Democrats say they were cut out of the process and need to be included.

"The thing that makes Democrats in the House relevant is that we have a Democratic governor. So in order for a bill to get signed, it's best that we all collaborate," McClinton said.

"There will be plenty of time for compromise, amendments and discussions," Grove said.

The bill is on a fast track in the House – Grove's committee is expected to approve the bill next Tuesday – and Grove hopes the Republican House will pass it the following week. Without some changes, Governor Tom Wolf is expected to veto it.

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