Editorial: Wolf’s voting veto a head-scratcher | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Wolf’s voting veto a head-scratcher


Gov. Tom Wolf thinks that scrapping straight-ticket voting will lead to confused voters and long lines at the polls.

Do you know what else confuses voters? Do you know what else leads to long lines?

When no one knows what’s going on.

How we vote might be the most important thing we do as Americans. Everyone doesn’t get a voice in Washington or in Harrisburg, but in borough buildings and fire departments and community centers around the state, we all get to speak up twice a year.

The state has been sending voters mixed signals.

Yes, the security of our elections must be protected. Pennsylvania should know that its voting machines are safe and have a way to verify the votes cast via an unhackable hard-copy record in the event of all-too-imaginable attacks from foreign adversaries, malevolent ransomers or just bored techno-vandals.

And that could have happened with Senate Bill 48, the proposal that would have provided $90 million to help counties with the equipment upgrades that have been demanded by the governor himself.

But Wolf vetoed it. Why? Because of a provision tacked on by Republicans that would have eliminated straight-ticket voting.

Should straight-ticket repeal have had its own bill? Maybe. But it doesn’t seem like adding it needed to kill SB 48.

Straight-ticket voting is when you click one box and it makes all the Democrat or Republican selections for you. It is a voting express lane.

There are real reasons to talk about eliminating it. It’s easy, but it’s also lazy. It can lead to overvoting — voting for two candidates for one office, which ends up negating the votes — if not done correctly. It is one more way to divide us into camps of red and blue.

There may be arguments to keep it. It’s definitely fast. It can certainly give voters who only care about party over platform a simple way to accomplish their goal.

But eliminating it doesn’t really get in the way of that. It’s just as simple to skip through the ballot clicking all of the appropriate D’s and R’s. Polls are staffed by people who explain the ballot and answer questions.

And scrapping the bill has led to head-scratching in counties that planned to have new machines in place for the November general election. Westmoreland County is now “kind of in limbo” on the process, according to Commissioner Charles Anderson.

Is pushing it off and dealing with new machines during what promises to be a contentious 2020 presidential election a better idea?

If anything seems confusing, it’s Wolf’s veto.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
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