Voter registration may get a bit easier for Penn students.
A new bill proposed by Rep. Kevin Schreiber (D-York) will attempt to push same-day voter registration through the Pennsylvania state legislature.
Under current Pennsylvania law, voters must register 30 days before the general election. Schreiber believes such an early deadline handicaps voters who may not be thinking about the election so far in advance.
College students are one key demographic that Schreiber hopes his new bill will target. In an interview this week with the York Dispatch, Schreiber described college students as likely to forget about voting until close to Election Day.
Members of Penn Leads the Vote, a nonpartisan group that organizes voter registration drives on campus, found Schreiber’s assessment to be accurate for the 2014 midterm elections.
“As someone who worked at a polling station, I found a lot of people coming up who asked if they could vote without registering,” PLTV Registration Chair and College sophomore of Anna Bedrosian said.
Same-day registration would certainly help turnout, Bedrosian said.
A study conducted by the public policy organization Demos concluded that states with same-day voter registration average a 10 percent greater turnout than states without the policy. According to the study, same-day registration especially increased voter turnout among blacks. In North Carolina, which recently eliminated its same-day registration program, 41 percent of voters who registered on the 2012 Election Day were black, compared to just 20 percent of the population.
Schreiber also hopes to implement electronic registration forms in statewide elections. Voters currently have to send paper registration forms to Harrisburg. Bedrosian acknowledged inefficiencies in the pen-and-paper system.
“I have heard people who have tried to register but never heard back [from Harrisburg],” she said.
“It’s a lot easier for something to get lost in physical mail. Electronic registration would streamline the process,” PLTV President and College junior Sean Hamamoto said.
Bedrosian and Hamamoto both agreed with Schreiber’s initiative, but noted the lower turnout of midterm elections in general. Only 36 percent of registered voters went to the polls in Philadelphia for the 2014 midterm elections, the lowest turnout since 1998.
At Penn, voter turnout in midterm elections has gone down nearly 24 percent since the last midterm election in 2010.
Though same-day registration is proven to increase turnout, most states, including Pennsylvania, view the option as politically infeasible. Only 12 states currently have same-day registration, and the Democratic Schreiber has already seen pushback from Pennsylvania House Republicans.
Schreiber’s office did not return request for comment before the time of publication.
Republicans control both chambers of the Pennsylvania legislature with strong majorities, and they are unlikely to approve Schreiber’s changes. A similar bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ last term failed to reach the governor’s desk.
Most Republicans in the Pa. House view same-day registration as a facilitator of voter fraud and would only support it if voter IDs were also mandated. Democrats have opposed voter ID implementation in the past.
While Schreiber’s bill may fail to translate into law, his suggestions reflect growing voter apathy among millennials.Comments powered by Disqus
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