Philadephia Dem takes aim at GOP on voting

State Rep. MaryLouise Isaacson, D- Philadelphia County, is pictured during a gun violence rally in the state Capitol.

What’s good for the Republican goose should be good for the Democratic gander.

That’s the thinking behind four bills introduced Thursday by state Rep. MaryLouise Isaacson, D-Philadelphia County, who is trying to draw a legislative comparison to state Republican efforts to reform state election laws with firearms laws in the state.

“If these restrictions truly do not infringe upon Americans’ right to vote, then surely these same restrictions will not infringe upon Americans’ right to bear arms,” Isaacson wrote in her legislative justification. “For this reason, I will be introducing legislation to ensure that many of the same voting restrictions that Republicans have been working to pass will also apply to firearms.”

House Bill 1831 would require that all purchases of firearms must be a face-to-face transaction between the seller and the purchaser and must occur in the place of business of a licensed seller or county sheriff’s office.

House Bill 1832 would require that individuals must deliver the application/record of sale for a background check in-person to a Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) station, with exceptions for individuals with a disability. It also requires that all incomplete or inaccurate applications must be rejected, and the applicant must wait 14 days before resubmitting.

House Bill 1833 would require that all concealed carry permit applications be submitted in-person, with exceptions for individuals with a disability. It would also require that all incomplete or inaccurate applications must be rejected, and the applicant must wait 14 days before resubmitting.

House Bill 1834 would permit observers to witness the processing of background checks in the PSP’s Instant Check Unit as well as to witness the processing of concealed carry permit applications in the county sheriff’s office.

An 88-page report released in June spawned a bipartisan voting reform effort led by Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, and Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, includes mail-in ballot pre-canvassing “at least three days before Election Day and not later than 8 a.m. on Election Day.” The bill also will include guidance for mail-in ballot tracking through a barcode system and live streams, so the counting process is publicly available. Voters could still return their mail-in ballots to a dropbox, but legislation proposes receptacles are anchored to the ground to prevent tampering, and are monitored by video surveillance for added security.

Legislators also propose moving back the deadline to receive applications for mail-in ballots from one week to two weeks before an election and eliminate a p ermanent mail-in voting list that caused confusion last year.

Other legislation sponsored by Seth Grove, R-York, would tighten voter identification requirements in the state.

Earlier this year, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Voter Rights Protection Act, which also included voter identification. Wolf has since said he would consider different legislation that includes some forms of voter identification.

“The people of our Commonwealth have made it clear that they want an election system they can believe in,” Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte and Senate president pro tempore, and Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said in a news release after Wolf’s veto. “In fact, election reform ranks among the most serious concerns of Pennsylvanians in statewide polling, including the 74 percent of citizens who recently voiced their support for voter ID, which is why the General Assembly addressed this important matter before the end of June. The Voter Right Protection Act that passed both chambers of the General Assembly 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. The process included review of best practices in multiple states including red, blue, and purple states, as well as many bipartisan hearings that were held over several months. The recommendations and changes identified in these hearings are all reflected in this important piece of legislation.”


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