Updates are a cornerstone of modern life. Computers and smartphones require regular software updates. When people experience significant life events — graduation, a new job, a move, getting married or having a child — one of the first things they do is update their social-media profiles. Just as we update our operating systems and social-media profiles, we should regularly update our public policies so that they meet the needs of today’s citizens. In the general election last month, fewer than a quarter of Pennsylvania’s registered voters turned out to vote. With few high-profile races on the ballot, this low turnout is not surprising. But, even in our most recent presidential election year, Pennsylvania ranked 29th among the 50 states in voter participation. It’s clear from these numbers that our system is overdue for an update.
Over the past 30 to 40 years, states from coast to coast have remodeled their election systems to improve the voting experience, increase turnout and make election administration more efficient. The only meaningful update Pennsylvania has adopted in that time has been online voter registration, introduced just four months ago. Online registration is a good start, but we need to adopt updates that have been tested and proven in other states to bring our voting system into the 21st century.
To raise awareness of this problem, our organizations have joined with nearly 30 other local, state and national groups to launch Keystone Votes — The Coalition for Modern Elections. Our nonpartisan coalition supports four proven election updates that would make voting easier and more convenient and ensure that all Pennsylvanians — especially seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and working people — have an equal opportunity to make their voices heard.