Pennsylvania Implements Automatic Voter Registration at PennDOT Centers

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PENNSYLVANIA — In a bid to amp up election security and save taxpayer’s time and money, Governor Josh Shapiro announced on Tuesday that Pennsylvania has 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. Pennsylvania becomes the 24th state to implement AVR, joining states like Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Starting immediately, eligible Commonwealth residents renewing or obtaining new driver’s licenses and ID cards will be automatically taken through the voter registration application process unless they opt out. This is a departure from the previous system where voters had to opt into the voter registration process. The new changes also provide access to voter registration instructions in 31 different languages, an increase of five from the previous number.

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

This move builds upon the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act passed in 1993, known as the motor voter law, which allowed Pennsylvanians to apply to register to vote during visits to PennDOT centers. Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt described the move as a “commonsense action” that made the registration process more efficient and secure.

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PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll expressed pride in the role his department plays in the voter registration process, highlighting the efficiency brought about by collaboration with the Department of State. The implementation of AVR is expected to benefit military families who move frequently, ensuring their participation in the democratic process. It will also reduce the burden on county elections professionals who often deal with paper application processing.

Automatic updates received by local election officials when residents obtain new identification will aid in maintaining the accuracy of Pennsylvania’s voter rolls. This is particularly important during presidential and midterm election years when county election offices are flooded with voter registrations and status updates.

Studies have shown that automatic voter registration can increase the number of eligible voters added to the voter rolls and boost voter turnout. As of December 2022, approximately 8.7 million Pennsylvanians were registered to vote, with over 10.3 million Commonwealth residents eligible for registration.

To be eligible to register to vote, applicants must be a U.S. citizen for at least 30 days before the next election, be a resident of Pennsylvania and their election district for at least 30 days before the next election, and be at least 18 years old on the date of the next election.

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