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Tom Wolf Budget

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, left, delivers his budget address for the 2019-20 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg on Feb. 5.

HARRISBURG — Lawmakers are sending legislation to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to help Pennsylvania counties afford new voting machines, but the bill contains changes to voting laws that prompted opposition from Democratic lawmakers.

Both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature approved the bill by near-party line votes Thursday. Just seven Democrats voted for it.

One provision eliminates the ballot option for voters to simply select a straight-party ticket in elections. Democrats say that'll benefit down-ballot Republican candidates.

Republicans initially had opposed Wolf's demand that counties buy new voting machines before next year's presidential election. Election-integrity advocates and computer scientists support it.

But Wednesday night, Republicans unveiled a measure to borrow up to $90 million for voting machines and inserted it into the wider election law bill.

The total cost for counties could exceed $100 million.

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