register to vote, Iowa
"Register to Vote" sign in Iowa. Photo Credit: Phil Roeder / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Instead of opting into registering to vote, residents of the Keystone State now have to opt out.

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On Tuesday, Pennsylvania became the latest state to automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they obtain drivers licenses or other ID cards.

Instead of opting into registering, Pennsylvanians now have to opt out.

“Automatic voter registration is a commonsense step to ensure election security and save Pennsylvanians time and tax dollars,” said Governor Josh Shapiro (D). “Residents of our Commonwealth already provide proof of identity, residency, age, and citizenship at the DMV — all the information required to register to vote — so it makes good sense to streamline that process with voter registration.”

Including Pennsylvania, there are now two dozen states, plus the District of Columbia, in which voters are automatically registered to vote. While a couple of them have Republican administrations, most of them are controlled by Democrats.

Conversely, many red states continue to make it more difficult for people to vote, often under the guise of election security.

However, Al Schmidt, the secretary of the commonwealth, noted that the new automatic voter registration process is very secure and efficient.

“The voter is already in a state government facility with their identification documentation in hand, and they will have their picture taken and sign their name electronically,” Schmidt noted.

In addition, the Keystone State now offers voter registration instructions in five additional languages for a total of 31.

Experts believe that these steps will increase voter participation in Pennsylvania, a key swing state, making this a win for democracy.

Among the benefits of automatic voter registration are that the process takes less time and fewer resources. This is especially important ahead of elections. Traditionally, this is when a lot of voters register, which puts a strain on the state employees who have to process these registrations.

However, thanks to the new policy, the registrations are spread out more evenly throughout the year.

In addition, automatic voter registration makes it easier to maintain voter rolls, which are updated when a Pennsylvanian moves and changes their address at the DMV.

Voter integrity advocates hailed the new policy.

“Giving more Pennsylvanians a chance to have a say in the future of our families, communities, and the state of Pennsylvania is a win,” said Christina Hartman of Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Of course, a process that offers greater security, higher turnout, more accurate voter rolls, and less hassle while also using fewer resources is not in everybody’s interest.

For example, it stands to reason that this policy will primarily mean that young voters will be added to the rolls when they first obtain their driver’s licenses or other ID cards.

And, since they mostly vote for Democrats, the new policy did not sit well with some conservatives.

“This clearly includes illegal aliens residing in Pennsylvania,” tweeted right-wing activist Jack Posobiec.

That is, of course, complete nonsense and typical fearmongering from those who want only select Americans to vote instead of all of them.

In announcing the new policy, Pennsylvania officials made it clear that it only applies to Keystone State residents who will be 18 years old at the time of the next election, and who have been US citizens and residents in their district for at least 30 days prior to Election Day.

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