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23 Mar 2024

Pennsylvania House speaker pushes for same-day registration and widely available early voting

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March 23, 2024 Category: Election 2024 Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Speaker Joanna McClinton at Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget address in February. (Photo/Pa. House)


HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania House speaker said Monday that qualified residents should be able to register to vote at polling places on the day of elections, and that early voting centers should be open for two weeks beforehand.

Speaker Joanna McClinton had proposed these measures as part of a wider package of election changes in the last two-year session, but like many election law proposals it died in the politically divided Legislature.

“Every bill requires compromise,” McClinton (D-191st Dist.) said Monday as she began to seek cosponsors for the narrower approach. “We have a lot of work to do in our chamber, of course across the aisle and across the building.”

Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana) responded to McClinton’s proposal by referring in a statement to a GOP-supported proposal that also has stalled in the General Assembly: “A lot can happen if we get Voter ID as a Constitutional Amendment.”

County officials who run the nuts-and-bolts of Pennsylvania elections have long clamored for more time in the immediate run-up to elections to process mail-in ballots, a proposal McClinton included in her previous bill but is leaving out this time. Lawmakers also did not act to move the day of this year’s Pennsylvania’s spring primary, scheduled for April 23, so the date remains in conflict with the first day of the Passover holiday.

A 2019 law greatly expanded mail-in and absentee voting in Pennsylvania, effectively giving voters a way to cast ballots in advance. McClinton said she wants to establish early voting centers with machines that all legally registered voters could use.

McClinton said many U.S. states currently allow some form of early voting in person and that the two weeks she supports is typical of how those states have approached it.

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