ICYMI: Philadelphia Inquirer Highlights Importance of Electing a Democratic Governor to Protect Voting Rights
Yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a report saying Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election will decide whether voting restrictions are signed by a new Republican governor or blocked by a Democratic governor.
“It’s likely to be one of the most high-stakes consequences of the election, one that could ripple into the 2024 presidential campaign,” wrote the Inquirer. New Pennsylvania Project founder Kadida Kenner adds, “2022 is probably the most important election of your life if you care about voting rights.”
The next governor will appoint a Secretary of State to oversee the 2024 election, a critical role after Donald Trump tried to subvert the will of Pennsylvania voters in 2020. The Big Lie has become a litmus test among the crowded “Trump primary” field, and all of the candidates support a costly sham audit of the 2020 election, which would also threaten the private social security numbers of Pennsylvanians.
In contrast, Democratic candidate Attorney General Josh Shapiro has pledged to expand voting rights and veto Republican attempts to restrict voting. “Congress has failed to protect voting rights,” he said in an interview. “Now what’s clear is that the battle is going to be left up to the states.”
Read more about the importance of electing a Democratic governor below:
The Philadelphia Inquirer: The Pa. governor’s race will shape voting laws — and maybe the 2024 election
This fall’s election will almost certainly decide whether significant rollbacks of mail voting and other new restrictions are signed by a new Republican governor — or blocked by a Democratic successor to Gov. Tom Wolf. It’s likely to be one of the most high-stakes consequences of the election, one that could ripple into the 2024 presidential campaign.
Republicans running to replace Wolf are promising to repeal the bipartisan 2019 law that allowed for widespread mail voting. They also plan to impose voter ID requirements, restrict mail ballot drop boxes, and do away with other procedures adopted during the pandemic. Some have said they would eliminate mail voting almost entirely, severely curtailing an option used by 2.6 million Pennsylvanians in 2020, mostly Democrats.
The only major Democrat in the field, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has pledged to veto nearly all those ideas, including any attempt to restrict mail voting.
“Congress has failed to protect voting rights,” Shapiro said in an interview. “Now what’s clear is that the battle is going to be left up to the states.”
With either a signature or veto, Shapiro said, the next governor will shape voting rights in Pennsylvania. The new governor will also appoint a secretary of state who will oversee voting in and certification of the 2024 election, when Pennsylvania will again be a key battleground — though county officials also play a significant role in collecting and counting votes. The secretary could be even more significant after former President Donald Trump tried to subvert the will of the voters and throw out Pennsylvania’s lawful result.
“We are going to get back to real elections that you will have confidence in and that I can have confidence in so we can go back to having a real democracy,” Dave White, a former Delaware County councilman, said at a GOP gubernatorial debate this month. He said Act 77, the 2019 measure pass by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed by a Democratic governor, “really screwed up the election law” and cost the GOP the presidential race.
There is no evidence of significant fraud in the long history of mail voting across the country, or in the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, a finding affirmed by independent reviews, including by Trump’s former attorney general. There have been fewer than 10 known prosecutions for voter fraud in Pennsylvania in that race out of almost 7 million votes cast. Republicans say there are still deep doubts about the 2020 election. But those doubts have been fueled mostly by a sustained and baseless attack by Trump and his allies, not actual evidence of wrongdoing.
They’ll likely have the chance to implement their vision if they win, since the GOP already holds — and is widely expected to keep — both chambers of the legislature. Only a Democratic governor has stood between Republicans and the kind of voting limits imposed in at least 19 states since the 2020 election. Some GOP-controlled states have also passed laws to weaken election administrators and shift authority to political partisans, alarming democracy experts after Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 election.
Democrats and progressive activists say the stakes are especially high for people of color, who often face the most significant barriers to voting — including long lines at polling places — and who are more likely than white voters to lack government ID. Voter fraud is already exceedingly rare.
On the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Shapiro unveiled plans to make voting easier, including with automatic registration when anyone gets a driver’s license, preregistration for teens approaching 18, same-day registration, and early in-person voting. He pledged to make his first appointment a “pro-democracy” secretary of state.
A Republican gubernatorial debate this month in Lawrence County, meanwhile, began with a video message from Trump, who almost immediately repeated his debunked claim about winning Pennsylvania in 2020.
“We believe that democracy is in peril at this moment,” said Kadida Kenner, founder of the New Pennsylvania Project, which aims to engage people who often sit out elections, especially voters of color and younger voters. “2022 is probably the most important election of your life if you care about voting rights.”
Shapiro and Kenner both said voters are more likely to talk to them about everyday issues like inflation or education, but that those topics can’t be addressed if people don’t have a fair say in their government.
With all of the concerns people have, Shapiro said, people “don’t want to worry about the instability of our democracy, too.”