State capitol

Pennsylvania’s capitol building in Harrisburg on the morning of Election Day. November 3, 2020.

HARRISBURG — Republicans in Pennsylvania have introduced at least 14 bills intended to roll back voting access in the wake of the 2020 election.

The Brennan Center for Justice says only lawmakers in Arizona have unveiled more legislation attacking voting access.

Arizona leads the nation in proposed voter suppression legislation in 2021, with 19 restrictive bills. Pennsylvania comes in second with 14 restrictive policy proposals, followed by Georgia (11 bills), and New Hampshire (10 bills), according to the Brennan Center.

In Pennsylvania, those measures include a bill that would completely undo the state’s expansion of mail-in voting that played such a prominent and controversial role in the November election, as well as eliminating drop boxes and eliminating the option that allows voters to permanently request mail-in ballots, among others.

Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly but Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, opposes any move to limit voting access, his spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger said Friday.

“The governor would oppose legislation to make it more difficult for eligible voters to exercise their right to vote or roll back mail-in voting, which people have clearly embraced,” Kensinger said. “Pennsylvania had historic turnout in November, in part because of mail-in voting, and the governor’s priority remains for the state to continue to have safe, secure, and efficient elections that maximize participation by eligible Pennsylvania voters.”

Bills to roll back mail-in voting options have been announced by lawmakers in both the state House and Senate. The House state government committee has begun a series of “election oversight” hearings that are scheduled to continue until early May. The state’s primary is scheduled for May 18.

The chairman of the state government committee, Rep. Seth Grove, R-York County, said Friday that the House should wait until those hearings are concluded before passing any election-related legislation.

“The committee is still holding hearings and it would be premature to offer up legislation until the hearings have concluded,” he said. “The committee will not be acting on anything until the hearings are complete,” Grove said.

He said the aim of the hearings is to conduct “a deep dive into all aspects of how elections — from the local level to the federal level — are held in Pennsylvania.”

Jason Gottesman, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre County, said that while there are no plans to move any election bills in the short-term and he doesn’t anticipate that election legislation will be voted upon before that committee completes its review, “it’s not entirely off the table.”

At the end of a budget hearing with the Department of State on Wednesday, state Rep. Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery County, said continued efforts by Republicans to raise questions about the election are dangerous.

“This has been a pretty shameful couple of months,” he said. “This has got to stop.”

Bradford is the Democratic chairman of the House appropriations committee. State Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York County, is the Republican chairman of the appropriations committee.

Saylor said lawmakers are acting in response to questions from their constituents.

Voters “don’t understand whether there is corruption in the process,” Saylor said. “They want to make sure their one vote” is being counted fairly and accurately, he said.

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