HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Governor Tom Wolf and state officials from several agencies announced efforts to expand voter registration information and access.
This morning at the Farm Show Complex, Gov. Wolf signed Executive Order 2022-03, which expands the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). The NVRA mandates that certain state agencies are required to provide voter registration opportunities to the clients or citizens they serve.
“Registering to vote is the first step for any Pennsylvanian to actually cast a ballot, and we’re here today to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to find all of the materials they need to register to vote,” said Gov. Wolf. “This work will support the dedicated county officials and thousands of local poll workers who do their part every Election Day, selflessly, to ensure that anyone who wants to exercise their precious right to vote can do so,” Gov. Wolf added.
Today’s order designates additional state agencies as Voter Registration Distribution Agencies (VRDA). They will be required to provide voter registration materials and information to Pennsylvanians:
- Department of State (DOS) at public Bureau of Elections, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, and Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations locations
- Department of Agriculture at events at the Farm Show Complex
- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at 121 state park office locations
- Department of Corrections in connection with Bureau of Community Corrections services
- Department of Education at library locations
- Labor and Industry programs at CareerLink offices
- Department of Military and Veterans Affairs at state veterans homes
If you’re looking to get started on the registration process, you can now do so at state parks, libraries, and even the annual PA Farm Show.
“The Executive Order I’m signing today will make voter registration materials readily available through agencies and programs that already have frequent contact with Pennsylvanians so that people can find a voter registration form more quickly and more easily,” said Gov. Wolf. “This is one more way that our commonwealth can make voting more accessible and easier for the citizens of Pennsylvania,” he added.
Gov. Wolf and Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said it’s an effort to boost registration among Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million eligible, but non-registered voters.
“With 1.7 million Pennsylvanians who are eligible to vote but are not yet registered, it will be no small task to reach those individuals before the November election,” said Acting Secretary Chapman. “Our goal is to reach all eligible voters, regardless of political party, including voters who live in urban, suburban and rural areas, young voters, older voters, voters with disabilities, and new Pennsylvanians,” she added.
Chapman said DOS will oversee the distribution of materials, offer training programs for the agencies, and more.
“The Department of State will supply voter registration materials and our partner agencies will determine how best to advertise and distribute them to their customers and clients,” said Chapman.
Each VRDA will have to provide an official voter registration mail application (not specific to any county election office), an accompanying non-postage-paid envelope and instructions explaining where the completed voter registration application should be sent.
The order asks each agency to designate a voter registration distribution coordinator and to provide DOS with quarterly statistics to assess the effectiveness of the voter registration program. Each agency’s designee will serve on a working group to monitor the progress.
Under the NVRA, many agencies are already required to provide registration opportunities to the Pennsylvanians they serve:
- Department of Human Services – county assistance offices, state mental hospitals, county mental health/intellectual disabilities programs, and intermediate care facilities
- Department of Labor and Industry – Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services offices, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation offices, and Centers for Independent Living
- Department of Health – Women Infants and Children (WIC) clinics
- Department of Aging Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs)
- Department of Education – Bureau of Special Education offices
- State System of Higher Education – Student Disability Services offices
- County Clerk of Orphans’ Court offices, including marriage license bureaus
- Armed Forces Recruitment Centers
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Complementary Para-Transit providers
All other offices in the state that provide public assistance and all offices that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities. The deadline to register for this year’s general election is Oct 24 in Pennsylvania.