Now, we are excited to join a new, nonpartisan coalition called Keystone Votes, which is working to ensure accessible democracy for voters in the 21st century.
We are raising awareness about the pressing need to update our elections and highlighting four changes that have been in place in other states for years, yielding greater participation and increased voter engagement.
Preregistration of 16- and 17-year old voters allows young people to become registered so they are eligible to vote as soon once they turn 18. Youth preregistration has been shown to increase participation among young voters, at little cost to states.
Research shows that young people are more likely to become lifelong voters when they are engaged early. Preregistration, easily accomplished through the Department of Motor Vehicles or high school civics classes, would be an easy way to get young people engaged and ready to vote.
Early voting, providing polling options in the days before Election Day, would be a great benefit to citizens whose work and family schedules make voting difficult.
For nurses who work 12 hour schedules, workers whose commutes make it impossible to get to their polling places and men and women who work in other cities during the week and return home on weekends, the flexibility to vote when it works for them would make voting significantly more convenient.
Giving all voters the option of voting by mail, often called no-excuse absentee voting, would provide another important option to those with difficult work schedules, or to disabled or frail citizens who find it difficult to get to their polling places.
It would also put an end to voters being forced to provide personal health information when requesting an absentee ballot because of illness, frailty or a disability.
The last change, same day registration, would make voting possible for first time voters and citizens who have moved here from other states who show up for elections not realizing that registration in Pennsylvania closed 30 days earlier.
This would also be a great benefit to those older voters who have been registered for years, relocate out of their original polling place, and discover they didn’t change their registrations in time to vote.
States that have implemented same day registration have seen increases in participation of more than 10 percent percent on average and four of the five states with the highest voter turnout in 2012 offered same-day registration.
All of these ideas have been successfully in use in other states for years, some for decades.
More importantly, all of them have earned the support of election administrators and elected officials from both parties in the states where they’ve been tried.
It’s time Pennsylvania adopt measures like these that make voting work for modern voters at every stage of life and boost participation in our elections.
This is part of an op-ed by Susan Carty, president of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, published y PennLive on November 20, 2015.