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Governor Wolf Announces 21st Century Voting Reform Plan for Pennsylvania

March 26, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today will introduce his 21st century voting reform plan that includes same day and automatic voter registration, modernizing absentee voting, ending gerrymandering, and enacting campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of special interests in Harrisburg.

For decades, Pennsylvania has been on the wrong side of voting rights reform. The commonwealth has fallen victim to outdated and unfair policies that make voting too difficult, make special interests too powerful, and make politicians less accountable.

“To rebuild trust in Harrisburg, we must have fair and accessible elections for all citizens from our rural communities to our big cities,” said Governor Wolf. “These reforms have been championed by House and Senate Democrats to modernize our voting laws and put the people of Pennsylvania back in control of our elections. It’s time to remove barriers to voting, end gerrymandering, and curb special interests.”

Governor Wolf’s 21st century voting reform plan includes:

  • Voting Rights Reform: We must break down barriers to voter participation by making it easier for citizens to vote. Governor Wolf is proposing:
    • Same Day Voter Registration: Eligible Pennsylvanians should be able to register to vote on election day at their polling place. Same Day Registration would help thousands of people have their voices heard, especially young people, working people, and others with limitations. Example legislation includes Senate Bill 282 (Boscola), House Bill 101 (Bizzarro), and House Bill 945 (DeLuca).
    • Automatic Voter Registration: Eligible Pennsylvanians who get a license from PennDOT or register for a public service would be automatically registered to vote unless they opt out. Example legislation includes Senate Bill 608 (Hughes) and House Bill 193 (Gainey).
    • Modernizing Absentee Ballots: Governor Wolf believes the current absentee ballot system is archaic and out of touch with the lives of modern voters. He supports “no-excuse” absentee ballots, where citizens can use an absentee ballot if it is most convenient for them to do so. Pennsylvania lags behind 27 other states on this issue.
  • Campaign Finance Reform: Place limits on contributions to candidates seeking elected office with new campaign finance laws as well as implement aggregate limits for races, place sensible restrictions on Political Action Committees (PACs), and strengthen reporting and disclosure requirements across the board to restore confidence in government, and curtail the role of campaign spending in our political process. Example Legislation includes Senate Bill 11 (Costa) and House Bill 1332 (Dermody).
  • Gerrymandering Reform: Eliminate partisan politics from the legislative redistricting process by enacting legislation to end gerrymandering by establishing an independent, bi-partisan commission to create future electoral maps. Example legislation includes Senate Bill 22 (Boscola) and House Bill 722 (Samuelson).

Governor Wolf has long advocated for this change. Upon coming into office, Governor Wolf launched online voter registration and now more than a million Pennsylvanians have used it. Governor Wolf’s administration also launched a voter information texting initiative and a program to get high school seniors to register to vote. But Pennsylvania, especially the General Assembly, must do more.

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