HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Senate today unanimously passed legislation to allow citizens of the commonwealth to register to vote online, bringing a much-needed, 21st century process to voter registration, said the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
"The system proposed in this bill will bring greater access to the election process," said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "With a few keystrokes, a person could be registered to vote, saving time and hassle. The Senate voted today to protect the right to vote."
Senate Bill 37, introduced by Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), directs the Department of State to create the new online registration system. The department had initiated such a program and announced its expectation that the system would start last year but then delayed its launch due to the implementation of the new voter ID law.
That law is now delayed as it awaits court review.
Sixteen states currently allow citizens to register to vote online. Arizona was the first state to create online registration and now processes 70 percent of its registrations through the program.
States that have implemented online voter registration have found that the system saves administrative costs and reduces clerical errors in the registration process.
"For the health of democracy, elections should be run as smoothly as possible," said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "Online registration can make the process more precise. That leads to less delay and fewer problems on Election Day."
Even with online voter registration, the current system of registering by paper application will be still be available, Hoover noted, alleviating concerns about participation by citizens without internet access.
SB 37 now heads to the state House of Representatives for its consideration.