EAST FALLS LOCAL ARTICLE: No Excuse. Vote. Don’t Complain.
In my opinion, voting is the most critical, important civic responsibility that all citizens need to perform.
On Oct. 31, 2019, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania made it much easier to participate in this most critical endeavor. A voter reform law was signed into law that day – an update to our election code that was 82 years in the making.
No longer will citizens have to endeavor to manipulate their schedule around work, children, caregiving and a myriad of other commitments to exercise this basic and profound right to vote.
Instead of a tight and sometimes impossible 13-hour window to vote, voters can now cast a ballot as early as 50 days before election day. This fact alone should help to greatly expand the electorate and provide voters the opportunity to thoughtfully cast a ballot at their convenience.
All citizens who are eligible to vote can avail themselves of a mail-in ballot. Mail-in ballots will then be sent automatically to citizens for every election thereafter, if the voter so chooses.
The link to apply for the mail-in ballot is: https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA.
If you prefer, my office has these forms available, and we can provide a paper application for you. Please contact my office at 215-482-8726.
Voter turnout has been historically low. In a presidential election year, turnout is somewhat higher, but not what turnout should be. For example, voter turnout in May 2019 was 23%. That primary election was for the office of mayor, city council, the row offices of sheriff and the register of wills, city commissioners and superior, common pleas and municipal judges. Again, turnout was a paltry 23%, and, mind you, that is 23% of registered voters (not eligible voters).
To also facilitate voting, the registration deadline has been extended to end 15 days before election day; previously it was 30 days. This added time gives citizens two extra weeks to change their registration if they have moved or have not registered previously. Many folks do not focus on an upcoming election until closer to the date. Previously, it was too late to register if one realized that election day was 30 days away.
I encourage all citizens to check their voter status though the link in this article.
Other reforms include the elimination of straight ticket voting. A voter will no longer be able to make a unilateral decision to vote for all candidates on the ballot of one party. Personally, I believe this is helpful to citizens as voters will be more aware of all the positions that are up for election and the importance of considering candidates based on their merits; not just candidates a political party is advocating.
Pennsylvania is late to the game for mail-in voting, which is a type of early voting. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia offer some form of early voting. Four of these states – Oregon (2000), Washington (2011), Colorado (2013) and Hawaii (2019) – hold all elections entirely by mail.
Hopefully, additional voting reforms will continue to be considered in Pennsylvania. Same-day voter registration and open primaries are two that come immediately to mind. Both reforms would continue to expand the electorate.
Please let me know your thoughts and questions on mail-in ballots and the possibility of open primaries and same day voter registration. As always, I can be reached at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net or 215-482-8726.