Former President Donald Trump early Monday said that Republican leadership should "start suing now" after Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro introduced automatic voter registration in the state, saying it could spell a "disaster" in 2024.
Earlier this month, the Democratic governor confirmed that people in Pennsylvania will be automatically registered to vote when they have either received or renewed their driver's license or state identification—unless they choose not to. That sparked warnings from Republicans that it could favor Democrats in the upcoming presidential election.
"Pennsylvania is at it again! The Radical Left Governor, Josh Shapiro, has just announced a switch to Automatic Voter Registration, a disaster for the Election of Republicans, including your favorite President, ME!" the former president wrote in a Monday morning post on Truth Social. "This is a totally Unconstitutional Act, and must be met harshly by Republican Leadership in Washington and Pennsylvania."
In his Truth Social post, President Trump wrote that top Republicans, including Republican National Committee officials and the Pennsylvania GOP, should act quickly in Pennsylvania. Rather than focusing on "meaningless" primary debates while he's up by 50 percentage points on average over the remainder of the Republican field, the RNC needs to "spend their time working on" the Keystone State's election rules, he said.
"Start suing now, [and] get the right lawyers this time," the former commander-in-chief wrote. "The Pennsylvania Republican Party must likewise not let this happen.
The RNC has not issued a public comment regarding President Trump's post. The second debate among GOP candidates will be held later in September, but the former president has said he won't attend the debate and cited his significant polling advantage over the other candidates.
Elaborating, President Trump wrote that the automatic registration rule is an "unconstitutional act" and should "be met harshly" by GOP officials, adding that states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin are "far more important than 'Aida,' Sloppy Chris, Lyin’ Mike Pence, Nikki 'Birdbrain' Haley, Ron ('Dead Campaign') DeSanctimonious, and the others," referring to nicknames he's given several of the candidates.
Otherwise, he warned, "It will be a disaster for our Nation, which is being destroyed by these Lunatics, Marxists, & Fascists, whose only real ability is to CHEAT on Elections."
In contrast, during his announcement, Mr. Shapiro said that the automatic voter registration system will make the state's elections "more secure" and claimed it would "break down the barriers for legal eligible voters," without elaborating.
A Pennsylvania Department of State spokesperson told news outlets that individuals who are not eligible to vote will not be given the voter registration screen when they are at the DMV trying to get or renew a license or state ID.
A spokesperson for Mr. Shapiro, Manuel Bonder, told Newsweek on Monday that the former president's statements about the voter registration rule are "lies" and characterized them as "dangerous." Mr. Bonder added that the system is a means "to securely streamline voter registration and enhance election security is within the Governor's executive authority."
CommentaryBut some critics who are not Republicans said that the system has a range of problems, arguing there will be downsides to expanding the voter pool.
Other critics on social media noted that it makes little sense to automatically register people to vote with a license or ID but not to require them to use that same form of identification to vote. Pennsylvania has a law that requires first-time voters to present identification before voting for the first time but not subsequent times. A law in 2012 that was passed by the state legislature that required all voters to present identification was struck down by a Pennsylvania court in 2014.
"When it becomes easier and easier to vote, it's to the disadvantage of Republican candidate, because that means that there's likely to be more turnout, particularly among Democrats that might be somewhat disadvantaged by the prior restrictions that are in place," he suggested, adding that "part of the reason why this is somewhat of a big story is that Pennsylvania was also one of the states that was being pretty heavily challenged in terms of voting in the 2020 presidential election."