PA Rep. Introduces Automatic Voter Registration Bill

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A Pennsylvania legislator this week introduced a piece of legislation that would implement an automatic voter registration system in the Keystone State.

In his co-sponsorship memo for HB 1874, Rep. Ed Gainey wrote:

“Voting is a fundamental right guaranteed to all Americans. Without Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement, many of us would not be able to enjoy a right for which our predecessors fought. Unfortunately, many do not vote citing the burdens associated with voter registration, and the time and financial costs resulting from going to the polls as their reasons. In this age of technology, this General Assembly has an obligation to find efficient and effective methods for assisting the citizens of the Commonwealth in exercising this fundamental right.”

Here’s what his proposal would do:

  • It would shift the responsibility of voter registration from eligible voters to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
  • The Secretary of the Commonwealth will initiate a program to automatically register eligible voters whose information is provided to PennDOT, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, or the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
  • The Secretary of the Commonwealth will forward the data (which includes citizenship and other pertinent info) to the registration commission of the county in which the qualified elector lives.
  • The commission will then send a postcard with information on how to opt out of registration altogether and how to choose a party affiliation.
  • A newly registered voter will have 21 days to opt out of registration.
  • If the commission does not receive a notice to cancel, the individual will be assigned a unique number from the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors and mailed voter identification.

Gainey noted recent automatic voter registration programs in both California (which he said added more than 6 million voters to the rolls) and neighboring Maryland (which signed into law the country’s first-ever automatic voter registration law).

“I believe it is time that Pennsylvania follow this trend and ensure access to the ballot for all qualified electors,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Think Pennsylvania needs automatic voter registration? Want to see if your state representative is a co-sponsor to this bill? Here is a list of current co-sponsors:

  • Rep. Santarsiero
  • Rep. Kinsey
  • Rep. V. Brown
  • Rep. Youngblood
  • Rep. Schlossberg
  • Rep. Wheatley
  • Rep. Bizzarro
  • Rep. Rozzi
  • Rep. J. Harris
  • Rep. Sims
  • Rep. Schweyer
  • Rep. Thomas
  • Rep. Kim
  • Rep. McNeill
  • Rep. D. Costa
  • Rep. Neilson
  • Rep. McClinton
  • Rep. Bullock

 

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