By MARC LEVY Related Press
Donald Trump has a well-recognized goal in his sights: Pennsylvania’s voting guidelines.
He by no means stopped attacking court docket selections on mail-in ballots in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, falsely claiming it as a motive for his 2020 loss within the essential battleground state. Now, the previous Republican president is seizing on a call by Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro to bypass the Legislature and begin automated voter registration.
The blowback has echoes of the 2020 election, when Trump and his allies relentlessly criticized selections by the state’s Democratic-majority Supreme Court docket. That included extending the deadline to obtain mail-in ballots over warnings that the pandemic had slowed postal service deliveries.
Republicans have joined Trump in railing in opposition to Shapiro’s motion, saying there are usually not sufficient safeguards to forestall minors or undocumented immigrants from registering. The Shapiro administration disputes that.
“THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO STEAL PENNSYLVANIA AGAIN BY DOING THE ‘AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION’ SCAM,” Trump wrote on his social media platform.
Some Republican lawmakers are threatening litigation, saying Shapiro ought to have sought approval from the Legislature, the place management is split between the events. In the meantime, nationwide and state Republican events are searching for an evidence from Shapiro’s administration for the way it will be sure that non-U.S. residents and minors can’t register to vote.
In an announcement, Republican Nationwide Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stated Shapiro is springing an “unclear and pointless last-minute rule change” on voters weeks earlier than the Nov. 7 election, which includes a race for a state Supreme Court docket seat. The primary-term governor “cares extra about getting airtime on MSNBC than ensuring Pennsylvania elections are safe and clear,” McDaniel stated.
Shapiro is also attempting to capitalize on his transfer. He did a spherical of nationwide cable TV appearances after the Sept. 19 announcement and used it as fundraising pitch, selling it as a serious development for democracy.
“This may assist tens of 1000’s of Pennsylvanians make their voice heard — regardless of who you select to vote for or what your views are,” Shapiro stated in a fundraising e mail.
Democrats contended that Shapiro was effectively inside his authorized authority to authorize automated voter registration. One election lawyer, Adam Bonin, stated Republicans criticizing it are merely searching for cowl, ought to Trump lose in 2024, and are utilizing it to lift marketing campaign donations.
Pennsylvanians will discover the change after they head to a driver’s license middle to acquire or renew a license. On computer systems there, a immediate will inform them they are going to be registered to vote “until you decline to register.”
Beforehand, the prompts requested customers in the event that they wished to register and to affirmatively examine a field saying “sure.”
The Shapiro administration stated it already has protections in place to forestall non-U.S. residents or these underneath age 18 from being provided registration.
A few of these protections date to 2017, when the state stated it mounted a two-decade-old glitch that may have enabled a number of thousand non-U.S. residents to inadvertently register to vote. Officers estimate that folks in that group forged about 540 ballots over 35 elections in 17 years.
In Pennsylvania, roughly 8.6 million individuals are registered to vote, whereas barely greater than 1 million are no less than 18 years outdated however unregistered, in line with authorities figures.
Christina A. Cassidy contributed to this report.