Pennsylvania adopts automatic voter registration
Pennsylvania has become the latest state to implement automatic voter registration.
Why it matters: The policy is expected to boost the number of registered voters in the critical swing state ahead of elections this November and next year.
Driving the news: Gov. Josh Shapiro implemented the policy change Tuesday, sidestepping the legislative process in a move that drew pushback from Republican legislators.
What they're saying: "Registering eligible Commonwealth residents to vote during their visits to driver and photo license centers is a commonsense action," Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt said in a statement.
The other side: GOP leaders in the state House and Senate slammed Shapiro for not seeking input from the legislature.
- "This unilateral action on the eve of what is likely to be a hotly contested and close election will cause many Pennsylvania voters to continue to question the security and results of our system," Republican Leader Bryan Cutler said in a statement.
How it works: Pennsylvanians will be automatically asked to complete the voter registration process when getting a driver's license or identification card at state Department of Transportation (DOT) centers.
- While Pennsylvanians have been able to register to vote at state DOT centers for decades, they had to opt-in to the process.
- Now residents who don't want to register to vote will have to opt-out.
The big picture: 23 other states, and D.C., already have some version of automatic voter registration.
The intrigue: A 2021 study from the Public Policy Institute of California found that automatic voter registration has a small but positive effect on increasing overall turnout.
Between the lines: Automatic and electronic voter registration is more seamless and secure, and can reduce processing paper application costs, per the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law institute.
- The process also ensures voter rolls are kept up to date.
What to watch: Whether the policy change will actually increase voter turnout in future elections remains to be seen, Pat Christmas, of nonprofit government watchdog group the Committee of Seventy, told Axios.
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