(The Center Square) — Residents receiving or renewing driver’s licenses and state ID cards will be automatically registered to vote.

Gov. Josh Shapiro made the announcement early Tuesday, adding Pennsylvania to a list of 23 other states — including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia — that automatically walk applicants through the process unless they opt out.

“Pennsylvania is the birthplace of our democracy, and as Governor, I’m committed to ensuring free and fair elections that allow every eligible voter to make their voice heard,” Shapiro said. “Automatic voter registration is a commonsense step to ensure election security and save Pennsylvanians time and tax dollars.”

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He said the new provision “makes sense,” given that residents provide proof of residency, age, citizenship, and identity when applying for licenses and identification cards.

The announcement comes after a contentious few years over the security of the state’s voting procedures after no-excuse mail-in voting was adopted in 2019. Legislative Republicans have pushed for voter ID to close what they call glaring loopholes in the process, while Democrats have long opposed the measure as an intentional disenfranchisement of marginalized communities.

Democratic leaders, however, agree with the administration’s policy change as a win for universal voting access.

Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia, said the “improvement” affirms legislation he’s introduced to do the same and is “a testament to every civil and voting rights leader who has marched, raised their voice, and fought for a system that includes all Americans, including black and brown individuals or those who may feel intimidated to get involved.”

Voting and registering to vote should be easy to do and hard to cheat.

“We are better and stronger when we bring all voices and perspectives to the table,” he said.

In a statement to The Center Square, York County Republican Rep. Seth Grove said he’s “baffled” by continued resistance to voter ID, “while at the same time expanding the use of ‘motor-voter.'”

“Driver’s licenses are the most common form of voter ID by far, so it would stand to reason that an initiative like this would be linked to voter ID,” he said about Shapiro’s form of automatic voter registration. “Voting and registering to vote should be easy to do and hard to cheat. The governor should be focusing on both; unfortunately, he is not.”

In 2021, Grove authored a sprawling update to the state’s mail-in voting law that would include voter ID, ballot box restrictions, and new canvassing timelines, among other provisions. Despite bipartisan agreement on many of the proposals, former Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration rebuffed any attempt to enact universal voter ID.

The governor later told the Philadelphia Inquirer he wasn’t opposed to broadening the state’s voter ID law, just not in the way Grove’s bill proposed.

Christen joins The Center Square as its Pennsylvania News Editor and brings with her more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues from all angles. She’s a Pennsylvania State University alumna and has been published in the Washington Examiner, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, RealClear, and Broad+Liberty, among others.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

One thought on “Shapiro opts Pennsylvania into automatic voter registration”

  1. Excuse me, where is the technical answers to be found/ reporting, regarding these fairly simple questions:
    1. How precisely will PA ensure automatic voter registration does not mistakenly get applied to non-citizens? Non-citizen residents in the PA Commonwealth already provide proof of identity, residency, age, and citizenship status at the DMV — all the information required to automatically get pulled in to register to vote — so what precisely, technically, is in place to make sure non-citizens are not streamlined into the process of PA voter registration?!?
    2. How many non-citizens currently have a PA driver’s license or ID card in Pennsylvania? Simple question and one should be able to find the answer easily…
    3. How many non-citizens are anticipated to apply for a PA driver’s license or ID card in Pennsylvania from now thru 2024? I know R.I.N.O.’s do not care, but they should probably know these answers.

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