GOP should leverage electoral reform amid budget stalemate, Trump says

As Pennsylvania’s budget appears to be at an impasse ahead of Friday’s deadline, former President Donald Trump urged Republicans to use “election integrity measures” as leverage while bolstering his gubernatorial pick.

Wednesday’s statement on Trump’s official website came the same day news broke that top Republican lawmakers expect to craft a $42 billion budget for 2022-23 with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. .

Without new budget legislation enacted by Friday’s deadline, the state will lose power to make some payments, though a stalemate will typically have to last several weeks before any effect on services is felt, the report reported Wednesday. ‘Associated press.

Trump hailed a bill introduced by State Senator Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, to increase poll watchers in the election and called on Republicans to “get tough and smart” when budget discussions.

“The Poll Watcher Empowerment Act, which will bring transparency back to the election process and ensure there is no counting behind the scenes, like in Philadelphia, where they cheat, cheat, cheat! This, along with other election integrity measures such as a ban on drop boxes, no private funding, voter identification, and same-day voting with paper ballots, should be linked to the state budget. Republicans have to get tough and smart if they want to win (easily) Pennsylvania!” Trump said.

The allegations against Philadelphia are among many unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud that Trump has continuously pushed since his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

No-excuse mail-in voting authorized by Law 77 of 2019 has been a particular focus for Republican candidates in this year’s primary race for statewide races.

Mastriano, the Franklin County lawmaker who ran against Democrat Josh Shapiro in November, has long been a supporter of Trump’s voter fraud allegations and has proposed sweeping changes to voting in the Commonwealth.

Trump specifically noted that Mastriano’s focus on electoral reform was a key reason for his last-minute endorsement over the other eight GOP candidates less than a week before the May 17 primary.

Mastriano won the Republican nomination, winning nearly 43% of the 1.34 million votes cast in the GOP race.

“We will secure the elections in Pennsylvania! Thank you for supporting our legislation, President Trump,” Mastriano replied in a Twitter post late Wednesday.

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The Associated Press reported this week that budget talks are currently taking place behind closed doors but revolve around new aid for public schools.

Wolf originally requested $1.8 billion for public education in February, but that funding will likely reach around $800 million.

Among other concessions Republicans are expected to push for is an agreement on legislation restricting third-party funding for elections.

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Private grant funding from nonprofit groups to help counties facilitate elections was an issue raised during a Jan. 21, 2021, House hearing on State Department election guidelines, one of a series of hearings on the state’s electoral process.

At least two Republican lawmakers have raised concerns about grant funding from groups like the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to county election offices in 2020.

CTCL has distributed $350 million in grants to nearly 2,500 counties in 49 states to use for various expenses, including keeping in-person polling places open amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The majority of that grant, about $250 million, came from Priscilla Chan and her husband and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg.

While there were hints of special interests influencing the election through these grants during the 2021 hearing, grants like these took on the nickname “Zuck Bucks” during the campaign trail and were denounced by Mastriano and other Republican candidates during the May ballot.

Former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar testified that the terms of the grants were between the counties and CTCL, but added that she ‘didn’t think any county agreed to anything they didn’t want to do other”.

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Shapiro has previously denounced several voting reforms that would reduce mail-in ballots, require voter ID laws and other laws often heralded by Republicans as safeguards against fraud.

Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokeswoman Marisa Nahem pushed back on Mastriano’s poll watcher bill in a statement Thursday.

“Mastriano proves every day why he is the most dangerous gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania history – more extreme than even Trump himself – and one of his top priorities is to undermine our democracy. couldn’t be more out of touch and is completely unqualified to be Pennsylvania’s next governor,” Nahem said.