Pennsylvania launches online voter registration, becoming 23rd state to do so

Starting last Thursday, Pennsylvania became the 23rd state to allow its citizens to register to vote online.

It’s about time. The shift is considered an expansion of ballot access, but in reality should be considered the government catching up to where it should have been for years.

Kristen Gillibrand’s bill requiring all states to implement online voter registration is currently making its way through committee. A bill that would allow Pennsylvanians to register and vote on the same day is also working its way through the state legislature.

As the Associated Press reported, Pennsylvania’s implementation of online voter registration was authorized by laws that have been on the books for decades. The change is expected to save Pennsylvania’s government time and money, as they will have fewer paper forms to process. The system also makes voter registration more accessible for voters who otherwise would not be readily able to access paper voter registration forms.

If America is to remain one of the only industrialized democracies that puts the onus of voter registration on the citizen as opposed to the state, allowing them to do so online is a no-brainer. As I wrote of Gillibrand’s bill in April:

Computer via Shutterstock

Laptop, via Shutterstock

In the 21st Century, it’s a wonder that online voter registration isn’t already universal. While government typically lags behind the private sector in terms of updating their technology — we don’t like paying for new computers at the DMV — online voter registration saves time, resources and, by extension, money for municipal governments. So setting aside the civic benefits associated with expanded ballot access, the bill is also a financial winner for states who simply haven’t gotten around to setting their system up.

So big ups for Pennsylvania for expanding ballot access in a way that saves their state government money. Next, they can work on getting rid of (or at least pushing back) their voter registration deadline, which is currently set at October 5th — one of the earliest in the country.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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3 Responses to “Pennsylvania launches online voter registration, becoming 23rd state to do so”

  1. eeke4jooz says:

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  2. BeccaM says:

    Good for my home state. Now if they could just get the extreme GOP-favoring gerrymandering undone…

  3. Indigo says:

    Scratching my head here. I think we’ve already got that here in Florida. This much is certain, I can go on line and change my address if I move, I can even change my party affiliation on line if I want to. I’m scratching my head in puzzlement because it seems so unlikely that we’d be with the flow, let one a little bit ahead of it.

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