Online Voter Registration Coming to PA?

In the wake of the Pa. Voter ID debate and given technology’s prevalence in peoples’ everyday lives, state Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) has introduced a bill that would implement an online voter registration system within 90 days.

A number of Republicans are on board with the bill as being a money-saving venture and it seems the proposal has a viable chance of becoming law.

“Based on the experience in other states, online voter registration would save the Commonwealth and its counties a significant amount of money,” said Erik Arneson, Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s spokesman.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s any good reason to wait. It’s time to get this done.”

At least nine other states provide the online registration option, so Pennsylvania lawmakers would not be taking a chance on new or unfamiliar technology, according to Smucker’s office.

“One of the ways of getting greater public participation in elections is to make registration even easier,” he said.

He added that the law does not preclude the use of online registration, so this bill would simply be a means of putting a system in place that would be available in time for the general election — and may even make it possible to move up the registration deadline closer to Election Day.

Department of State Press Secretary Ronald Ruman said the state is already working on the process, and that it should be in place by November, although he couldn’t specify a date.

“The biggest issue is making sure it could be done securely” to protect voters’ info, he said.

Ruman said he couldn’t speak to the Smucker legislation, and that lawmakers would have to determine whether the deadline could be moved if voters were given an easier, more immediate means of registration.

“If someone wants to register, they’re going to register. But we certainly think it would help a number of folks and make it easier.”

Common Cause Executive Director Barry Kauffman said his organization has advocated for online registration for years, and, given the advancements of technology, such a move could be implemented without the worry that personal data would be at risk.

Common Cause is a nonpartisan good government group aimed at ensuring “open, honest, accountable and effective” elected officials, according to its website.

Kauffman said the State Department informed him that Pa. residents will be able to register online beginning July 1 (as long as they are in PennDOT’s driver’s license database), but Ruman said that date is more of a goal and expectation rather than a certainty.

“That date may have been a goal, and our hope certainly is that it will,” Ruman said. “ But…until we are certain, we’re not putting a specific date on it.”

Kauffman said that the PennDOT system is a start, he hopes it will eventually go further.

“While this move to offer online registration is being done administratively under current law, it may be useful to establish this as a right with broad applications” to include people not in the driver’s license database, he said.

“Ultimately, it should be available to any Pennsylvania citizen of voting age.”

Given the controversy and backlash over the Voter ID law, a move to make voting easier could provide a bit of a PR boost to the GOP.

May 11th, 2012 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 7 Comments

7 thoughts on “Online Voter Registration Coming to PA?”

  1. kathleen Miller says:

    If voting online was possible, i think more people would register to vote, being voting online us much easier than having to go to your local office to do it,,some people dont drive or have a vehicle or public transportation is not available in certain areas

  2. V. Kurt Bellman says:

    Whoa there, hold on a cotton pickin’ minute! This might be a stealth method to make Photo ID indispensible! Right now, our ENTIRE system of voter identification is built around the “wet” signature, which is then scanned into the SURE system voter database for inclusoin in the pollbooks. With online registration, where is the voter’s signature going to come from? WIthout a signature, the ONE AND ONLY status quo method of verifying ID goes away. What we have here is a backdoor method to make Photo ID needed.

  3. C. E. Pringle says:

    Sorry, I intended to enter the source for that report regarding online voter registrations: Philadelphia Enquirer 8/17/12 report provided by email from Huffington Post.

  4. C. E. Pringle says:

    As it turns out, our Republican leaders have decided that encouraging people to vote and making the process easier is not their priority or at least not as much as their #1 stated priority of making President Obama a one term President. This announcement from the PA Dept. of State:

    “Within hours of a judge passing down a decision upholding Pennsylvania’s strict new voter ID law, the state announced that it was scrapping two voter registration initiatives, in part due to strains placed on its resources by the ID measure.”

    Let’s move on that appeal as quickly as possible please. And, whatever it takes, VOTE!!!!

  5. This is years behind, but finally someone has the – let’s say intestinal fortitude – to propose such a Bold idea.

    Let’s see; we have gone into outer space, landed men on the moon, have men and woman living in space, invented a robotic car that drives from one location to another without any human intervention, perform major surgery robotically from miles away, etc., etc., etc.

    Now, online voter registration! What could possibly be next? How about online absentee voting? Dare we even mention real time online voting? Whoops! We can’t do that, because we have to show a photo id. We still haven’t figure out how to guard against voter fraud. Hell, we don’t even know if there is voter fraud.

    Well, back to the proverbial drawing board – or should it be computer aided drawing?
    Maybe someday, generations from now, we will become smart enough and advanced enough, and in the process be able save a fortune in the money we are now just wasting.

  6. ILikeSmith says:

    Wow, this idea is so reasonable and practical that….I guarantee it will not happen! This is PA state government people!

  7. Jon Geeting says:

    This…can’t be right?

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