HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania, July 2, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania this week vetoed a ban on vaccine passports and multiple election integrity measures passed by lawmakers.
On Thursday, Wolf vetoed Senate Bill 618, which would prohibit state and local officials from requiring proof of vaccination for COVID-19. SB 618 would also prevent school districts and higher education institutions that receive state funding from asking about students’ COVID-19 vaccine status.
Other provisions include restrictions on unilateral orders, like mask mandates, by the state’s Secretary of Health, as well as a ban on the use of taxpayer funding to develop vaccine tracking systems. Gov. Wolf had promised to veto SB 618 and has endorsed vaccine passport proposals.
“We’ll continue to be advocates for our constituents who are very concerned about a unilateral government mandate, and protecting the privacy of their health information,” Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, the primary sponsor of SB 618, told the Epoch Times. the Epoch Times.
More than a dozen states, including Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma, have banned vaccine passports this year.
“Out-of-touch” election vetoes
Gov. Wolf on Wednesday also vetoed House Bill 1300, the Voting Rights Protection Act, which requires that voters show valid ID before voting, moves up voter registration deadlines, and cuts back on ballot drop-boxes. The bill additionally allows for early pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots, a priority for Democrats. Like SB 618, HB 1300 passed narrowly along party lines, making an override of the governor’s veto unlikely.
In his veto statement, Wolf claimed that the Voting Rights Protection Act would “undermine faith in government” and “silence the voices of some Pennsylvanians.” The bill “is incurably riddled with unacceptable barriers to voting,” he said.
“To say I am disappointed in Wolf’s lack of action is an understatement,” Republican Rep. Seth Grove, chairman of the House State Government Committee and a sponsor of HB 1300, said on Wednesday. “From signature verification to requiring voters to show identification when voting, the Voting Rights Protection Act included initiatives supported by the majority of Pennsylvania voters.”
Senate leaders issued a similar statement, saying that the Voter Rights Protection Act “reflects the legislative branch’s work to identify and fix flaws in our election system, and ensures no voter would be disenfranchised by ensuring every single legal voter in the state would receive a qualifying voter ID under the bill — free of charge.”
“Today’s veto by Governor Wolf of the Voter Rights Protection Act is an out-of-touch move that goes against the majority of Pennsylvanians, including members of his own party,” Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) said.
Corman and Ward noted that recent polling has found that most Pennsylvanians support voter ID. A poll last month by Franklin & Marshall College reported that 74% of registered Pennsylvania voters support “requiring that all voters show a photo ID.” The majority of U.S. voters, including non-white voters, have similar views, according to recent surveys.
Along with vetoing HB 1300, Gov. Wolf shot down another election integrity measure on Wednesday, using his line-item veto to remove a section from a budget bill that would have allotted $3.1 million for an election audit bureau, the Center Square reported.
With Wolf unwilling to back election efforts, Republicans are advancing a bill that would leave reform in the hands of voters, allowing Pennsylvanians to vote as early as 2023 to add voter ID rules directly to the state constitution. Lawmakers successfully used voter-backed constitutional amendments to rescind the governor’s emergency powers earlier this year, amid sharp criticism of Wolf’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
The ongoing push for election integrity in Pennsylvania follows a highly problematic 2020 election, with numerous, well-documented irregularities in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania last year suffered from voter equipment theft, thousands of lost ballots, and unevenly implemented —and sometimes illegal — guidance by now-former secretary of state Kathy Boockvar.
Ahead of the 2020 election, Republicans revealed that the Wolf administration tried to hide evidence that around 11,000 illegal immigrants were registered to vote in Pennsylvania. The state has not conducted a full recount or a forensic audit of the Nov. 3 election, despite tens of thousands of possible voting system “inaccuracies” previously flagged by Pennsylvania’s auditor general.
Other GOP legislation facing near-certain vetoes from Gov. Wolf include pro-life bills currently moving through the statehouse. Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer who has received millions in backing from the abortion lobby, said in June that he would veto pro-life policies “[e]very time” they crossed his desk. The radical pro-abortion governor called restrictions on abortion “despicable” and has described the killing of unborn children as “health care.”
State legislators this year have advanced bills that would prohibit abortion sought due to disability diagnoses and that would allow for burial of babies after miscarriages or abortions. Wolf has already vetoed a heartbeat bill, a ban on dismemberment abortion, and another disability abortion ban during his tenure.