Pennsylvania: How Pennsylvania could improve voting and elections, according to advocates and experts | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer
Pennsylvania is implementing the biggest changes to its electoral system in decades, including an expansion of absentee ballot access, easier voter registration, the elimination of straight-party voting, and tens of millions of dollars for new voting machines. But when it comes to ballot access, those changes, part of a bipartisan deal enacted in October, will only move the state from the back of the U.S. pack to the middle. “It’s clear improvement on the whole to the process — sort of maybe revolutionary only by Pennsylvania standards,” said David Thornburgh, head of the Philadelphia-based good-government group Committee of Seventy. “On the Richter scale of change, it’s not a nine.” So, voting rights advocates and experts, while applauding the changes, want lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf to go further. The Inquirer asked for their wish lists. They offered dozens of ideas about voting rights, election security and integrity, and political representation. Some would likely garner support only on partisan lines; others could have bipartisan backing. Some are bolstered by research and proven track records elsewhere, while others are newer ideas. All came from a sense that Pennsylvania can do better, and that election modernization and voting reform should not end with this year’s law.