Shapiro implements automatic voter registration

Pike County. The move is intended to increase voter turnout while streamlining identification verification.

| 20 Sep 2023 | 04:06

On September 19, Governor Josh Shapiro announced the implementation of automatic voter registration for eligible Pennsylvanian residents who obtain driver licenses and ID cards at Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver and photo license centers. According to the announcement Pennsylvania now joins 23 other states to implement automatic voter registration.

“Pennsylvania is the birthplace of our democracy, and as governor, I’m committed to ensuring free and fair elections that allow every eligible voter to make their voice heard,” said Shapiro. “Automatic voter registration is a commonsense step to ensure election security and save Pennsylvanians time and tax dollars. Residents of our Commonwealth already provide proof of identity, residency, age, and citizenship at the DMV – all the information required to register to vote — so it makes good sense to streamline that process with voter registration. My administration will keep taking innovative actions like this one to make government work better and more efficiently for all Pennsylvanians.”

Going forward, Pennsylvania residents who are obtaining new or renewed driver licenses and ID cards and are eligible to vote will be automatically taken through the voter registration application process unless they opt out of doing so. Previously, eligible voters were required to take additional steps to opt into the voter registration process.

Shapiro also announced the addition of voter registration instructions in five more languages, for a total of 31.

“Registering eligible Commonwealth residents to vote during their visits to driver and photo license centers is a commonsense action,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt said. “The voter is already in a state government facility with their identification documentation in hand, and they will have their picture taken and sign their name electronically. Having all of that happen at the same time means the verification process is extremely secure and makes the registration process more efficient.”

“At PennDOT, we’re proud of our role in the voter registration process,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. “These latest enhancements are a great example of how, through constant collaboration with the Department of State, we work to make this process as efficient as possible for eligible Pennsylvania residents.”

Another benefit of this measure, per the announcement, is a reduction in paperwork at the county elections office level. Local election officials will now receive automatic updates when residents obtain new identification.

According to the announcement, as of December 2022, about 8.7 million Pennsylvanians were registered to vote, even though U.S. Census estimates that more than 10.3 million Commonwealth residents are eligible to register.

To be eligible to vote, residents must be U.S. citizens for at least 30 days before the next election, be a resident of Pennsylvania and their election district for at least 30 days before the next elections, and be at least 18 years of age on the date of the next election.

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