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McClinton Proposes New Voting Options For Eligible PA Voters

Joanna McClinton

Could same-day voter registration and early voting be coming to Pennsylvania?

If House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Delaware/ Philadelphia) has her way, the answer is yes.

McClinton held a Tuesday press conference to announce that she is introducing legislation to allow in-person voter registration at polling locations on Election Day, as well as allowing already registered PA voters to cast their ballot in person at voting centers during the two weeks leading to Election Day.

“Voting is at the core of our national identity and among our most valued rights as Americans,” McClinton said. “Rather than spur distrust in our system and attack our dedicated election workers, we should look for ways to make the system accessible to more Pennsylvanians so their voices can be heard.”

The Speaker noted in her co-sponsorship memoranda the popularity of such improvements across party lines, writing “nearly two thirds of all Pennsylvania voters in favor of instituting these commonsense solutions to make voting more convenient.”

A 2022 Franklin & Marshall College poll showed differences with McClinton’s statements regarding popularity, as the change most desired by those surveyed was voter ID (26%), followed by in-person or absentee voting only (19%).

Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana) responded to McClinton’s proposal by referring in a statement to a GOP-supported proposal that also has stalled in the General Assembly: “A lot can happen if we get Voter ID as a Constitutional Amendment.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states and Washington, D.C., have implemented same-day registration, as well as Election Day registration, which means voters can both register and vote on Election Day and often during the early voting period.

Three of those 20 states are considered “swing states” in the 2024 presidential election – Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin – while three of the remaining four  – Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania – do not permit same-day registration. North Carolina allows same-day registration only during the early voting period.

As of March 2024, forty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands offer early in-person voting to all voters (this includes states with all-mail elections). Four states – Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi and New Hampshire – do not offer early in-person voting, though they may provide options for eligible absentee voters.   

Among those seven “swing states,” Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina permit early in-person voting, allowing as many as 29 days prior to an election (Ga.) and as few as nine (Mich.).

“While there are so many in this critical hour that want to continue to sow distrust in our free and fair elections, that want to continue to delegitimize our elections and demonize election workers,” said McClinton. “It’s more important now than ever to restore trust, and to take meaningful steps to strengthen our system.”

“Pennsylvania now allows citizens to vote before election day, both in-person or by mail,” said David Becker, Executive Director of The Center for Election Innovation & Research. “The benefits of expanding options to vote before election day are clear, from bolstering election integrity and providing eligible voters more flexibility. Providing options to vote before election day minimizes the risk of technical problems on election day, and allows time to protect against misinformation and build voter confidence.”

McClinton noted that voters that take pride in voting on a machine in person should be able to cast their ballot at a time that is convenient for them to do so.

“Early in-person voting helps seniors, especially those who use wheelchairs or walkers, by allowing more time to accommodate their needs. Voters should not be forced to choose between their many competing or conflicting responsibilities and needs in order to vote.

“As the birthplace of American democracy, it’s time to offer our residents and our communities across the Commonwealth more options to vote safely and conveniently, reduce the time voters wait in line to vote, and guarantee that every community member has enough time to cast their ballot for the candidates of their choice.”

“These commonsense reforms will not only make it more convenient for all Pennsylvanians to make their voices heard at the ballot box, they will also help make our elections more secure,” said Pennsylvania Voice executive director Salewa Ogunmefun. “We couldn’t be happier that Speaker McClinton has decided to make this a priority and look forward to working with her to get them passed into law.”

“In order to have elections that are fully accessible to all, the Commonwealth must implement policies that are mindful of the challenges people with disabilities encounter when trying to vote. The changes proposed are welcome expansions to voting access in Pennsylvania and individuals with disabilities will especially benefit from more flexible opportunities to vote,” said Jennifer Garman, director of Government Affairs for Disability Rights Pennsylvania.

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