Governor Josh Shapiro followed through on a campaign promise to ensure free, fair and secure elections when he announced Tuesday that Pennsylvania will now have automatic voter registration. Residents of the Commonwealth who qualify to vote and are in the process of obtaining new or renewed driver licenses and ID cards will be automatically guided through the voter registration application process.
Bucks County State Representative Tim Brennan (D-29) fully supports Shapiro’s actions for automatic voter registration.
“I think it’s symbolic of what we need. We need actively engaged citizens more than ever in an era with a rampant amount of disinformation on websites,” he said.
Brennan also mentioned that one of the first bills he co-sponsored after being elected in 2022 was HB403, introduced by his colleague, Representative Brandon Markosek (D-25). The legislation would provide for the pre-registration of eligible 16-year-old high school students to encourage future participation in elections. “More than ever, we need young people engaged and paying attention,” he added.
Open primaries is another concept that Brennan hopes will be enacted. “A huge percentage of the independent voters are often veterans, and you know we’re not letting these folks vote in primaries. Voting is a hallmark of democracy. It’s a stamp of citizenship.”
Pennsylvania joins 22 other states, plus the District of Columbia, already utilizing similar programs that register voters when interacting with state-based government agencies.
“With more than 1.2 million people eligible to vote but unregistered in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, [Tuesday’s] announcement will undoubtedly help to close the voter registration gap, especially in communities of color where the gap is the most pronounced,” said New Pennsylvania Project CEO Kadida Kenner.
Soundbites from members of the Pennsylvania GOP, including House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, would have the public believe that being able to register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles is something new.
Previously, those conducting business at the DMV were asked if they wanted to register to vote. Now, if you don’t want to be registered to vote, you must opt out.
Additionally, voters will continue to have the ability to register at a variety of government offices in the Commonwealth including state offices that provide public assistance to people with disabilities, armed forces recruitment centers, area agencies on aging, centers for independent living, among others.
Shapiro’s program bolsters the precision and security of Pennsylvania voter rolls and will save taxpayers time and money by streamlining the verification procedures of the DMV and voter registration seamlessly.
Voting is a fundamental aspect of a thriving democracy. When citizens actively participate in the electoral process by voting, they contribute to the functioning and health of their democracy.
In addition to visiting various state agencies, Pennsylvanians may also register to vote online. October 23 is the deadline to register for the upcoming November 7 election.