Gov. Josh Shapiro Announces Automatic Voter Registration in Pennsylvania

FILE - Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks at the Finishing Trades Institute on March 9, 2023, in Philadelphia. Gov. Shapiro's administration said starting Tuesday Sept. 19 2023 it is making it easier for someone to register to vote when they are getting or renewing a driver's license in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

By Ashley Adams

September 19, 2023

Changes to the voter registration process at driver’s license centers now takes users to a template to register to vote, instead of asking whether they want to register first.

 

Registering to vote in Pennsylvania just got a whole lot easier.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration announced Tuesday that eligible voters getting a new driver’s license or ID card in the commonwealth will now be automatically registered to vote.

“Automatic voter registration is a commonsense step to ensure election security and save Pennsylvanians time and tax dollars,” Shapiro said in a statement. “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,” he added.

Under the change, when someone visits a driver’s license center, prompts on the computer screens will automatically take the user through the voter registration application process, unless they opt out. Previously, prompts on the computer screen asked the user whether they wanted to register to vote, requiring them to opt in to the process.

Twenty-three other states and Washington, D.C., already have varying models of what is called “automatic voter registration,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

There are currently 8.6 million registered voters in Pennsylvania, according to information from the state Department of State.

States have been required to offer voter registration at driver’s license centers since Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act in 1993.

Researchers from the Public Policy Institute of California, the University of Southern California and the University of California-Berkeley concluded in a 2021 study that automatic voter registration increased registration by several percentage points in states where it was in effect, and boosted the number of people actually voting by more than 1%.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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