Governor Wolf and Secretary of State Pedro Cortés Applaud Success of Online Voter Registration

May 02, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Pedro A. Cortés today pointed to the success of the state’s online voter registration (OVR) system as a factor in the efficient handling of last week’s Primary Election.

“Online Voter Registration has been a tremendous success in both its appeal to voters and in increasing efficiencies for our 67 county elections bureaus,” Governor Wolf said. “My administration remains committed to working with the legislature and partners to improve and expand access to voting for all Pennsylvanians, as our commonwealth is stronger when more people participate and have their voices heard.”

The OVR site logged more than 358,000 users from the time it launched in August 2015 through the March 28 primary registration deadline. Of those 358,000, just over 200,000 were eligible citizens applying for new voter registrations, while about 157,000 made updates to their existing voter registration, such as a change of name, address or party affiliation.

On the final day to register before the primary, the site drew 56,000 users.

Upon the launch of OVR, Secretary Cortés said the system would make voter registration more convenient, accessible and secure for eligible citizens. He also predicted that, as in other states, OVR would improve accuracy, increase the integrity of the voting rolls and save time and money for county election offices.

“Having more accurate voter rolls means fewer electors who must use a provisional ballot,” Cortés said. “That decreases the time voters wait in line. It also facilitates the counties’ work in tallying the final vote counts.”

Cortés said county election directors across the state have confirmed they are already reaping the benefits of OVR.

“In this presidential election year when so many Pennsylvanians were registering or changing their registration, the fact that so many last-minute applications were filed online was a great help to the counties,” Cortés said.

The OVR system was a hit with the public from the first day. In less than a week, the system tallied its first 5,000 users. During the final days before the registration deadline, the numbers climbed by thousands per day.

In March, the Department announced that OVR applications had surpassed paper submissions for the first time.

The online system, which is available in English and Spanish, is more secure for applicants because the form is transmitted directly to the appropriate county voter registration office for processing. The latest protocols in data security have been built into the system and are constantly monitored and updated.

The Department added a feature in March that allows users to upload signatures electronically if their record cannot be matched to a signature on file with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The OVR system employs the same technology used by financial institutions for online banking transactions that require digital signatures.

To learn more about online voter registration, check the frequently asked questions at votesPA.com.

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