Legislation to modernize Pennsylvania voter registration is advancing in the Senate. The Senate State Government Committee today passed legislation that would allow citizens 18 years and older to register to vote online until 30 days before the election. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County, now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Twelve states already allow for online registration, while 13 others are moving in this direction, said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause/PA, a government reform group. “It allows every citizen of voting age increased access to voter registration. This further elevates citizens’ right to vote,” Kauffman said. Plus, it “will dramatically reduce counties’ and the state’s voter registration processing costs, improve the accuracy of registrations and official voter rolls, and improve security of registrations by preventing bad actors from intercepting confidential information or failing to turn in legitimate registrations.”
Likewise, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania also hailed the committee’s action as a step forward for the right to vote in Pennsylvania. “By allowing citizens to register online, the legislation increases options for voters and access to this most fundamental right. That’s always a good thing,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.
Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Department of State, which oversees elections, said the department was moving in the direction of implementing an online voter registration process last year but held off at the request of counties that were trying to deal with the voter ID law. Moreover, he said other states that have made this move did it legislatively, rather than administratively so “we decided to let the Legislature do their thing.”