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State Senator Lisa M. Boscola - Your Voice in Harrisburg

Primary Election May 16th; Last Day to Register to Vote is Monday, April 17th; Election Reform Package

Register to Vote Register to Vote Pennsylvanians will once again head to the polls on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 to cast their ballots in the municipal primary, where a myriad of judicial, county and local offices will be on the ballot.  If you are not registered, the last day to register to vote in order to participate in the primary is Monday, April 17, 2017.

The easiest manner in which to register is through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.  Simply click the link and complete the online form and you will be registered.  You may also download a form to send to your county voter registration office, but it must be postmarked no later than April 17, 2017.

Election Reform Package

Voting is a sacred right.  Unfortunately, not enough of our fellow citizens participate in our democracy.  In order to promote greater participation, I have once again developed a package of bills with the goal of expanding participation.

Hhow to register to voteFirst, in light of the initial topic of this e-news, Senate Bill 282 would allow for Election Day Registration (EDR).  By implementing an EDR process, eligible persons are able to register and vote on the same day of any primary or general election by completing a registration card and providing proof of residence.  15 states across the United State have in place an EDR process and this legislation requires a proof of residence to ensure there is no fraud.

Advantages include increased voter accessibility and convenience, fewer provisional ballots to be processed, and a reduction in people turned away for not pre-registering properly. Also, by allowing voter registration to continue up to and including election day, voters can take into account the news, debates, advertisements or any other aspects of a candidate’s campaign taking place in that period of time.

Researchers examining causal links in election policies concluded in 2014 that same-day registration can increase voter participation by up to 4 percentage points. The largest election-day registration effects are evident in Minnesota and Wisconsin, which adopted this type of reform in the 1970s and consistently enjoy some of the highest levels of voter turnout among all states.

Second, as we approach the primary election, residents who have chosen to register as an independent or no party, have no ability to vote in a primary unless there is a referendum before the electorate.  We need to increase participation in our elections instead of disenfranchising an ever growing number of voters who are leaving the two major political parties. My legislation, which will be introduced in the near future, will an independent or no party registered voter to choose one party’s ballot on primary election day.  This mirrors systems in 9 other states, including our neighboring states New Jersey and West Virginia.

Third, I will be reintroducing my bill that would require that a Statement of Voter’s Rights be visible in all voter registration offices and polling places:

  1. A voter who is in line at the correct polling place during hours it is required by law to be open may vote, even if his turn to vote does not come until after those hours expire.

  2. If a voter has moved from his polling district to another, he may return to his original polling district to vote for as long as he remains qualified there. To be eligible to vote in the new polling district, he must either file a notice of removal with the voting registrar or register anew.

  3. A voter who has a physical disability or who cannot read or write, may apply to the voting registrar for a special needs ballot, but this must be done at least ten days before the election.

  4. A voter may bring his or her children who are not yet 18 years of age into the voting booth.

  5. A voter has the right to vote without being intimidated or forced to vote for someone he does not wish to vote for.

  6. A voter who believes that any of his voting rights have been impinged may call his local police.

Fourth, the package includes a proposal, Senate Bill 286, to permit initiative and referendum in Pennsylvania. Statutes could not be proposed unless a submitted petition is signed by registered electors equal to a number of not less than 5% of the votes cast for Governor, in not less than 45 counties. I believe that giving more power to the people to affect their government outcomes is a good thing—and long overdue.

Fifth, Senate Bill 285 would require special elections be held at the next corresponding primary or general election.  Too often, special election dates are set to benefit the party in power at a cost that goes on the back of the state’s taxpayers. The current practice of calling special elections leaves counties vulnerable to added strain as they account for remote military and overseas ballot requirements, certification of candidate(s) on the ballot, and other challenges that may arise while ensuring election integrity.  

If you would like more information on my Election Reform Package or any other bill I have introduced or will be introducing, please check out my co-sponsor memo’s I have circulated to my fellow Senators.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
West Catasauqua Prof.
Office Building
2123 N. 1st Ave | Suite A-4
Whitehall, PA 18052
(610) 266-2117
Fax: (610) 266-2169
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)