Harris touts automatic voter registration during Pennsylvania visit

Democrats celebrated National Voter Registration Day across the country on Tuesday, including in Pennsylvania, where Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the commonwealth’s governor’s decision to make registration automatic.

“For anyone who has not yet registered, please use today’s celebration as a way to register,” Harris said during an event at Reading Area Community College.

During the third stop of what is billed as a “Fight for Our Freedoms” college tour, Harris told an audience of mostly college students and young adults: “Don’t let anything get in the way of your leadership. » She also welcomed Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s announcement Tuesday that the state Department of Transportation would implement automatic voter registration when potential voters in the commonwealth obtain their driver’s licenses and ID cards. ‘identify.

“I also want to salute the governor, because today they announced that if – when you renew or when you apply for your driver’s license or your ID card – you are automatically registered to vote. So let’s make sure we let everyone know,” Harris said.

With this announcement, Pennsylvania becomes the 24th state to implement such a program, which aims to facilitate voter registration. The Commonwealth is consistently a key battleground in presidential and Senate elections, as well as key Congressional elections.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is seeking re-election next year in a race rated Tilt Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Businessman Dave McCormick is expected to officially enter the contested GOP primary to challenge Casey on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania was also one of the centers of efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his supporters to disenfranchise voters by rejecting Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes in favor of Democrat Joe Biden.

“Automatic voter registration is a common-sense measure to ensure election security and save Pennsylvanians time and taxpayer dollars. Residents of our Commonwealth already provide proof of identity, residency, age and citizenship to the DMV – all information required to register to vote – so it makes sense to streamline this process with Registration voters,” Shapiro said in a statement. “My administration will continue to take innovative steps like this to make government work better and more efficiently for all Pennsylvanians.”

Concerns about non-citizens

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson said he supports registering more people to vote, but noted that automatic registration upon obtaining a This permit can in some cases make things more complicated for non-citizens who may wish to obtain citizenship. He cited one case in which a voter registered to vote when she got her license, which “nearly destroyed” her ability to become a naturalized citizen.

“I really question the wisdom of pushing this. I always encourage people to register to vote because I think it is a right and a responsibility, but there will be problems,” he said. “I think we better think about how to maintain the integrity of this.”

The conservative initiative Election Transparency, which is a partnership between the American Principles Project and the anti-abortion group SBA Pro-Life America, criticized Shapiro’s decision.

“If you want to increase the risk of fraud, multiple or duplicate registrations and the participation of ineligible voters – such as non-citizens and illegal aliens, temporary residents and convicted felons – look no further than the process of dumping government data onto the system. voter rolls,” the group’s president, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, said in a statement. Cuccinelli is also founder of the Never Back Down super PAC which supports the presidential candidacy of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Lewis voting rights measure reintroduced

In Washington, House Democrats marked National Voter Registration Day by announcing the reintroduction of legislation named for the late Rep. John R. Lewis of Georgia, which would reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, including including changes that would restore provisions rejected by the Supreme Court in 2013.

“Generations of Americans – many in my hometown of Selma, Alabama – have marched, fought and even died for the equal right of all Americans to vote,” said Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala., in a statement. “But today, their legacy and our very democracy are under attack as MAGA extremists target voters with new laws aimed at restricting access to voting. Ten years after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the fight for voting rights has never been more urgent.”

The House passed a similar measure in the last Congress, when Democrats held the majority but not the Senate.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement accompanying the introduction: “Unfortunately, extremist MAGA Republicans have decided that the only way to win elections is to engage in a Mass voter suppression. »

And voter registration day also provided an opportunity for lawmakers and their campaigns to launch new fundraising projects before the end of the third quarter.

Sen. John Hickenlooper, Democrat of Colorado, sent one such message, highlighting his work on voting access as governor and asking his supporters to check their voter registration status (as well as to send money).

“Throughout our nation’s history, civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and many others have made it their mission to extend the inalienable right to vote to all Americans,” Hickenlooper wrote. “But across the country, we see some politicians doing everything in their power to suppress the right to vote – from closing polling places to purging voter rolls and passing discriminatory voting laws. voter identification. »

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