A Pennsylvania Senate committee today passed a bill to modernize the commonwealth’s elections by allowing citizens to register online. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania praised the legislation as a way to increase accessibility to voter registration.
“This bill represents a step forward for the right to vote in Pennsylvania,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “By allowing citizens to register online, the legislation increases options for voters and access to this most fundamental right. That’s always a good thing.”
Senate Bill 37 was introduced by Senator Lloyd Smucker, a Republican from Lancaster County, with a bipartisan group of 14 co-sponsors, including Republican Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and Senator Matt Smith, the Democratic chairman of the Senate State Government Committee. Smucker is the majority chairman of that committee, which passed the bill today.
The legislation requires the Pennsylvania Department of State to create a process to allow citizens to register online. According to press reports and department statements, the department was on the verge of launching such a system last year but ultimately pulled the plug on the project.
The non-partisan ACLU of Pennsylvania noted that election reform gains credibility when it has bipartisan support.
“Our goal is to protect the vote by easing barriers to the franchise, whether that is supported by both parties or one party or no party,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “It is particularly heartening, though, when positive election reform is supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
“We are grateful to Senator Smucker and his colleagues for their leadership on this issue.”
Senate Bill 37 now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.