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Chester County Press

We support proposed legislation that actually makes it easier for Pennsylvanians to vote

09/21/2015 02:39PM ● By Steven Hoffman

In six weeks, Pennsylvania voters will go to the polls to support their preferred candidates in numerous races, mostly for county or municipal positions.

Or, to be more precise, a small fraction of voters will go to the polls in this off-year election.

Turnout for the upcoming election is expected to be light, just as it was during the Primary Election in May.

Three state lawmakers—Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), Scott Conklin (D-Centre), and Tina Davis (D-Bucks) are introducing a package of bills to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that is aimed at helping Pennsylvanians vote.

We applaud this effort, especially considering the General Assembly's wrong-minded attempts to impose an unpopular voter ID law in 2012.

State Rep. Sims is introducing a bill that would allow in-person absentee ballot voting before primary and general elections with no-excuse-needed absentee ballot voting by mail.

Sims and State Rep. Davis will introduce a bill to create an independent redistricting commission that would oversee the redistricting process.

State Rep. Conklin and Sims have introduced a bill to set up automatic voter registration of all eligible people who obtain a Pennsylvania driver's license or non-drive identification card, with provisions for opting out with 21 days.

If we were given the chance, we would vote “yes” to early voting opportunities, “yes” to giving citizens the option of casting absentee ballots, “yes” to redistricting reform, and “yes” to automatic voter registration for all eligible citizens.

When this package of voting bills was announced, Sims noted that 33 states and the District of Columbia allow residents some form of early voting. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia allow voters to cast absentee ballots without an excuse.

It's simple: In 2015, states should be doing everything possible to allow citizens to exercise their right to vote.

What these three lawmakers are proposing is in contrast to what the Republican-controlled State Legislature did in 2012 by passing the controversial Voter ID Law. The Commonwealth Court ultimately struck down the law. Even though proponents of the Voter ID Law claimed that it would prevent election day voter fraud at the polls, there was no evidence that such fraud ever took place in Pennsylvania. Critics of the law saw it as an attempt to discourage eligible voters, primarily the elderly and the poor, from going to t he polls.

The bill to create an independent redistricting commission is similar to legislation that was approved in Arizona in an attempt to end partisan gerrymandering. Pennsylvania would certainly benefit from legislation that would end gerrymandering.

We hope that lawmakers will support these initiatives to make it easier for residents to registers and vote.

The last day for Chester County residents to register before the November general election is Oct. 5.

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