PA House Speaker McClinton proposes early voting and same-day voter registration reforms

Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton speaking at a press conference at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on March 19, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

March 19, 2024

Advocates praised Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton’s efforts to make voting more accessible in Pennsylvania, but proposed reforms faces hurdles. 

Dozens of voting rights advocates joined House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) at the Pennsylvania State Capitol recently after the Speaker introduced legislation allowing Pennsylvania residents to vote in person two weeks prior to Election Day and to allow same-day voter registration for Election Day. 

“Having early in-person voting, along with same-day voter registration on Election Day, will empower our neighbors in every part of the commonwealth to participate in each and every election,” McClinton said in a press conference on Thursday.

“The bill that we’re here to talk about today would allow every single person who’s already registered to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to participate in official early voting. It would be for two weeks leading up to the election day, whether the primary election or whether the general election. In addition, it would allow every Pennsylvanian who’s able to register to vote to be able to go to their polling place on election day and register.”

Pennsylvania would join four neighboring states that offered early voting if the Pennsylvania House and Senate were to pass McClinton’s proposed legislation. 

However, that bill faces long odds in the Pennsylvania Senate where Senate Republicans held a State Government meeting on banning the use of ballot drop boxes in the upcoming election. Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong) told the Associated Pressa lot can happen if we get Voter ID as a constitutional amendment.

A recent report showed that over 80% of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican caucus are election deniers, meaning that they do not accept the results of the 2020 election or spread misinformation or election-related conspiracies.

Salewa Ogunmefun, the executive director of Pennsylvania Voice, a coalition of 50 organizations dedicated to making voting more accessible, explained the instability she’s experienced when voting in the past four elections with polling locations constantly changing and how McClinton’s legislation would remedy those issues. 

“I purchased my first home in 2020 and I have voted in four general elections at that address since then,” Ogunmefun said on Thursday. 

“These reforms will make it convenient for people to vote, increase voter participation, ease the burden on election directors, and allow for election results to be tabulated more quickly so that we can get election results at the general public as early as possible.”

 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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