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Sara Innamorato: It's time for automatic voter registration in Pa.

| Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, 11:45 p.m.

I watch my neighbors create positive change year-round. They volunteer to shovel sidewalks for seniors on their block and swap tomato-growing tips at the community garden.

These are the actions that create and sustain a community, but the largest and most impactful changes we can make begin at the ballot box. Your vote is your voice, and missing a chance to register shouldn’t stop you from using it on Election Day.

I want to amplify your voice by streamlining, simplifying and strengthening our democracy through automatic voter registration. Our goal is simple. It is to get as many people as possible registered to vote so they can make their voices heard beyond their community.

My bill, part of the Your Vote Counts legislative package unveiled last month, would automatically register people to vote when they interact with PennDOT, the state departments of Health or Human Services, or any other state agency. Basically, any interaction with a state service would give you the opportunity to easily register to vote — unless you decide to opt out.

We would hardly be alone. Results from across the country have shown that a secure system of automatic registration will save money, increase the accuracy of voter rolls and boost voter participation. We all lead busy lives juggling work, raising kids or going to school. Registering to vote may not be top-of-mind, but linking voter registration to these regular activities ensures we all have a say in our state’s future.

This goes beyond the state as part of a national push to innovate and bolster democracy by modernizing the registration process. My efforts mirror House Resolution 1, legislation that has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. Among its provisions, it would allow people to register to vote online or automatically using data from driver’s licenses or other government sources.

Participatory government demands equal access to participation. Too often, the complicated registration process we have in place poses a significant obstacle to access to the ballot. Automatic voter registration would make it easier for all Pennsylvanians to have a voice, get informed and be heard. These are the first steps in the fight for a fair, secure democracy in our commonwealth and our communities.

State Rep. Sara Innamorato represents the 21st state House District in Allegheny County.

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