Lawmakers Urge Action to Combat Voting Misinformation and Expand Poll Access

Abney, Policy Committee review trend limiting voter accessSubmitted Image

HARRISBURG, PA — Advocates are raising alarms about the damaging effects of voting misinformation on society and calling for urgent legislative action. State Representatives Darisha Parker and Carol Hill-Evans, along with Speaker Joanna McClinton, menstrual health professionals, and Pennsylvania students, emphasized the need for both state and federal measures to ensure the integrity of fair, safe, and secure elections.

“Voting access is the cornerstone of democracy. It allows citizens to be involved and determine who serves their communities,” said state Rep. Aerion Abney, who represents portions of Pittsburgh and hosted the hearing. “This is a topic very near and dear to me.”

Abney highlighted his previous work as the Pennsylvania director of special projects for All Voting Is Local, noting the concerning trend of restricted voting access in numerous states. Testifiers at the hearing showcased the success of same-day registration and early voting in other regions. Although Pennsylvania is not the most restrictive, it has lagged behind states like North Carolina and Georgia in ensuring ballot access.

“It’s disheartening to hear the real damage done by election deniers,” said House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro, who has long supported same-day registration legislation since 2014. “Voting rights advocates noted most of their time is spent combating misinformation, which has led to people not participating in the political process and avoiding the news. The big losers aren’t Republicans or Democrats, but we have a civic knowledge issue that threatens democracy as a whole.”

Wednesday’s House Majority Policy hearing featured testimony from Rev. Franklin Allen, president of NAACP Greater Harrisburg; Kadida Kenner, CEO of the New Pennsylvania Project; Dr. Amy Widestrom, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania; and Salewa Ogunmefun, executive director of Pennsylvania Voice. The hearing took place in the East Wing of the Capitol complex.

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“If we actually care about democracy, we must lead the charge in safeguarding equal access to the ballot for all residents,” Abney said. “Promoting measures to eliminate voter intimidation and opening up access—like other states have already done, including same-day registration and early voting—are proven methods to guarantee diversity in the democratic process and ensure all people have an opportunity to have their voice heard.”

The urgency for legislative action stems from the spread of voting misinformation, which advocates argue has caused significant harm. This misinformation leads to decreased trust in the electoral process and discourages participation in political activities, posing a severe threat to the democratic system.

By addressing these issues through proposed legislation, lawmakers aim to protect the integrity of elections and ensure that every citizen has the opportunity to participate fully and freely in the democratic process.

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