|In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that would overhaul and modernize Pennsylvania’s voting system. My bill offers comprehensive reform that would make voting and registering to vote easier and more convenient while still maintaining the security of our elections.
Specifically, my legislation would amend Title 25 (Elections) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to do the following:
- Allow citizens to pre-register to vote at age 16 and receive a postcard from their county board of elections upon their 18th birthday with information on where and how to vote.
- Automatically register qualified electors to vote when they interact with state agencies or apply for state employment, admission to a state-owned or state-related university or apply for state funding for college. Individuals would have an option to decline registration.
Many of these voting and election reforms have been enacted widely in states across the nation. For example, 34 states and the District of Columbia offer early voting. In 27 states and the District of Columbia, no excuse is needed to vote by absentee ballot. Another reform, automatic voter registration, has been approved by six states in the last two years and was considered by 29 state legislatures in 2016.
- Allow prospective voters to register to vote on Election Day and cast a provisional ballot – subject to their registration’s approval – at their local polling location.
- Enable portable voter registration when voters move residences within the Commonwealth. This would allow voters to go to their new polling location on Election Day, fill out a certificate updating their registration address and cast a ballot at one time.
- Provide for no-excuse absentee voting and create the option for a permanent absentee voter status for those who are disabled or otherwise unable to travel to the polls.
- Establish early voting beginning 15 days before Election Day and ending at 6 p.m. on the Sunday before the election.
- Require county prison officials and the Department of Corrections to automatically notify an offender’s home county election bureau when he or she is released from prison so that his/her voter registration, if registered, would be reactivated.
- Require any changes to election or voting laws or procedures to be quickly and widely publicized to voters by the state, county or municipality. It would also require the establishment of voter education campaigns.
- Finally, in jurisdictions where a single language minority exceeds 3 percent of the population, election officials must provide all voting and election materials – including notices of changes in law or procedures and voter education campaigns – in English and any minority languages.
Please join me in supporting comprehensive reform to update Pennsylvania’s antiquated and electoral process and make the Commonwealth a model in accessible voting.