Governor Shapiro Gets Stuff Done: Strengthening Our Democracy & Advancing Real Freedom in Pennsylvania

December 10, 2023

The Shapiro Administration is strengthening our democracy and keeping our elections safe and secure by implementing automatic voter registration and redesigning mail ballot materials to ensure that eligible voters’ voices are heard and counted.

Governor Shapiro continued to defend and fight for a woman’s right to choose by launching an abortion access website and joining the multi-state Reproductive Freedom Alliance.

Harrisburg, PA – In his first year in office, Governor Josh Shapiro kept his promise to defend and advance real freedom in Pennsylvania – including the freedom for Pennsylvanians to make their voices heard in our democracy and ensure their votes are counted, while protecting a woman’s freedom to choose.

Governor Shapiro took concrete, tangible steps to strengthen our democracy. In September, the Shapiro administration implemented automatic voter registration at Department of Transportation (PennDOT) centers across the Commonwealth. Building on that commitment, the Department of State recently announced plans for redesigned ballot materials for the 2024 election to reduce voter errors and confusion.

To protect a woman’s fundamental right to choose, Governor Shapiro joined the multi-state Reproductive Freedom Alliance with 21 other Governors to safeguard abortion access, protect abortion providers, and affirm abortion rights. In April, the Shapiro Administration also launched a new abortion access website to connect Pennsylvanians to reproductive healthcare resources & services.

Read more below about the Shapiro Administration’s work to promote election security, streamline the voter registration process, protect Pennsylvania elections, and ensure women have the right to choose.

Making Voter Registration More Streamlined and Secure: Implementing Automatic Voter Registration

  • In September, Governor Shapiro implemented automatic voter registration (AVR) for eligible Commonwealth residents obtaining driver licenses and ID cards at Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver and photo license centers.
  • By implementing AVR, Pennsylvania joins a group of 23 states with leaders from both parties – including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia – who have taken this step to promote election security and save taxpayers time and money.
  • Commonwealth residents who are obtaining new or renewed driver licenses and ID cards and are eligible to vote will be automatically taken through the voter registration application process at PennDOT centers unless they opt out of doing so.
  • Previously, eligible voters were required to take additional steps to opt into the voter registration process. These changes also increase access to voter registration by adding instructions in five more languages, for a total of 31 languages.
  • By taking this commonsense step, Governor Shapiro and his Administration are promoting election security, saving taxpayers money, and streamlining the voter registration process. Since making the announcement, nearly 58,000 voters have updated their registration or registered for the first time at the DMV.

Giving Voters Clearer Instructions, Decreasing the Number of Rejected Ballots, and Ensuring Every Legal Vote Is Counted: Department of State Redesigns Mail Ballot Materials

  • In another step to keep Pennsylvania elections safe and secure across the Commonwealth – Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt announced in November the Department of State (DOS) had redesigned mail ballot materials for the 2024 primary election. 
  • The redesigned envelopes and instruction sheets have revised language to better inform voters how to properly fill out and return their mail-in ballots to decrease voter confusion and assist county election workers in efficiently processing mail-in ballots.  
  • With these updated mail ballot materials, the Shapiro Administration is making the voting-by-mail process clearer and easier for Pennsylvanians to understand, and the redesigned envelopes and instruction sheets have revised language to better inform voters about how to properly fill out and return their mail-in ballots. 
  • Pennsylvania leaders and organizations across the Commonwealth praised the move, calling it “a victory for PA’s voters” and a “commonsense change that will help ensure that everyone’s vote is counted.”

Defending a Woman’s Right to Choose

  • In February, Governor Shapiro joined a Reproductive Freedom Alliance with 21 other Governors to safeguard abortion access, protect abortion providers, and affirm abortion rights. After joining the Alliance, Governor Shapiro led a letter from several governors in the Alliance urging the Biden-Harris Administration to take all necessary steps to ensure the first ever FDA approved over-the-counter (OTC) daily birth control pill is fully covered by insurance, so no one is denied access to critical reproductive healthcare because of the cost.
  • In April, Governor Shapiro launched a new website for reproductive health care resources to provide facts and information to those seeking critical reproductive healthcare services. On the website, the public can find further information about medication abortions as well as in-clinic procedure abortions. Users can also take advantage of an interactive map and the “Find A Provider” tool to locate a local provider, seek assistance on their journey with help from the “Make A Plan” section, and get connected with financial support under “How to Pay.”
  • All Pennsylvanians should know that abortion and reproductive health services remain safe, legal, and accessible here in Pennsylvania.

The Shapiro Administration continues to ensure Pennsylvania has free and fair elections that allow every eligible voter to make their voice heard and unequivocally supports a woman’s right to choose and access the full scope of reproductive health care.

# # #

SHARE Email Facebook Twitter