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Facing Pressure From Trump And Constituents, PA GOP Aims To Limit Expanded Voting

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Matt Rourke
/
AP
Voters, wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus, stand at a distance from each other as they wait in line to casts their ballot in the Pennsylvania primary in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

Republicans are considering rolling back a major expansion to Pennsylvania’s voting laws — a move motivated at least in part by relentless pressure from President Donald Trump and constituents who support him.

The legislature passed the landmark expansion, Act 77, a little over a year ago with nearunanimous GOP support. It allowed no-excuse mail voting in the commonwealth for the first time in the 2020 primary and general election.

In the nearly two months since Trump lost Pennsylvania and the election, the president has taken to directly calling Republican lawmakers in states he lost and urging them to help overturn the results.

Staff for Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) confirmed he received two of those personal calls in early December. Republican Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward told the New York Times that Trump had called her, too.

Mike Straub, a spokesman for Cutler, described the conversation as “much more a history lesson about what happened in Pennsylvania law” than a direct appeal by the president for lawmakers to change Pennsylvania’s election rules.

But Straub acknowledged that in the months since the election, as Trump’s attorneys have filed dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits aimed at getting the results overturned, baseless allegations of widespread election fraud have been “clearly top-of-mind for many, many members [of the House GOP Caucus].”

In December, Republican members of the House and Senate filed more than dozen memos proposing election law updates. Two proposals from House members would completely get rid of no-excuse absentee voting; other plans would clarify rules around how mail ballots can be submitted and counted.