Editorial by Rep. Barb Gleim
Gov. Josh Shapiro announced his administration will be implementing an automatic voter registration system in Pennsylvania just eight weeks before a general election, circumventing the legislative process. The constitutionality of this unilateral decision is in question and the timing again sows distrust among the people.
Twenty other states in the U.S. have automatic voter registration systems; however, the people in those states had a voice in its implementation. Laws are created through the General Assembly for a reason – so they have the most direct input from the people who elected them to office and are representative of the various areas of the state. By subverting this process, Shapiro has denied Pennsylvania residents their voice.
There are practical questions that need to be answered before the governor implements automatic voter registration, and there are more questions than answers. Currently, there exists legislative proposals on the table that would provide driver’s licenses to undocumented workers. With these individuals not eligible to vote, if such legislation were to pass, how would PennDOT and the Department of State prevent them from being improperly and illegally registered to vote? What about individuals convicted of serious crimes who have their voting privileges taken away, yet can still have a license to drive. Are they going to register them? Immigrants with work visas who need licenses for their jobs here. Are they automatically registered now? Minors get drivers licenses through PENNDOT at 16 years old, so how will this be monitored and separated? These are serious questions that need to be answered and would have been answered if such a change went through the proper legislative process.
Many in our state still have trust issues related to election integrity that have not been resolved. The potential for further questions related to fraud and illegal activity are already rising to the surface with this unilateral action, during what is expected to be a hotly contested election.
Furthermore, if the government is automatically registering people to vote and providing proof of the ability to vote, then individuals should be required to show that same proof of identification when they go to the polls. Voter ID should be required.
We demand more information before automatic voter registration is implemented statewide without the people’s input, and any future similar maneuvers the governor plans to use.