A state representative from Allegheny County plans to once again introduce bills that would allow early voting and same-day registration in Pennsylvania — proposals that have failed to leave the starting line in previous years.
“We’re in the 21st century,” Rep. Tony DeLuca, a Democrat who represents Penn Hills, told The Incline. Today, families have two working parents and children who need to be taken to activities, he said, meaning voting is “the last thing they think of.” Plus: “You’ve got all that traffic you have to fight.”
“They don’t have the time to vote,” he said.
Early voting is already widespread in the U.S. The practice is permitted in 37 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although some studies have shown it doesn’t increase voter turnout.
Same-day registration, however, does.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office review of 33 studies on the subject found that the majority showed an increase in voter turnout. Political science professor Jan E. Leighley and politics professor Jonathan Nagler say that the practice, allowed in 13 states and D.C., “would increase turnout by about three percentage points in presidential elections.”
Sometime next month, DeLuca plans to reintroduce House Bill 291, which would allow voting to begin 15 days before a primary or general election. He also plans to resubmit Bill 292, which would allow eligible voters to register at their polling place on the day of an election by submitting an application and providing proof of ID and residence.
DeLuca’s office released memos Tuesday seeking co-sponsors for both bills. During the 2015-16 session, the early voting bill was co-sponsored by 30 reps, including Allegheny County’s Dom Costa, Daniel Deasy, Dan Frankel, Bill Kortz, Harry Readshaw and Robert Matzie. The same-day registration bill had 18 co-sponsors.
Neither bill made it out of the House State Government committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County. (An email to a Metcalfe spokesperson was not immediately returned.)
Rep. Matthew Bradford, who serves as Democratic chair of the committee, said he “absolutely” supports any legislation that encourages voter participation. He plans to meet with Metcalfe this week to “impress upon him” the worthiness of such reforms.
“Everybody’s a winner when elections are fully participated in,” he said. “I hope to get support from my Republican friends to move on these types of bills.”
DeLuca said he thinks more people are paying attention to elections now than in the past. He hopes to get the public more involved on this issue and keep it in the news.
As for House Republicans …
“They should have enough guts to put it out on the floor and let members vote on it,” DeLuca said.