Pennsylvania is adopting an automatic voter registration system for anyone obtaining a driver’s license or other state identification card, state Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) announced Tuesday.
Pennsylvanians can still choose not to register when they obtain – or renew – their ID card, but they will need to proactively opt out of the process to do so.
Shapiro had the power to make the change without passing a new law.
“Pennsylvania is the birthplace of our democracy, and as governor, I am committed to ensuring free and fair elections that allow every eligible voter to make their voice heard,” Shapiro said in a statement. “Automatic voter registration is a common-sense measure to ensure election security and save Pennsylvanians time and taxpayer dollars.”
Pennsylvania is the 24th state to adopt automatic voter registration.
Studies have shown that adopting this policy is linked to both higher registration rates and higher voter turnout.
Democrats have long argued that making it easier to register to vote, as well as vote, leads to expanded voter participation. They also tend to believe that their party enjoys higher turnout among lower-income residents and others who vote less frequently, although this theory has been challenged in recent years.
In Pennsylvania, 8.7 million residents were registered to vote in December 2022, even as the US census suggests that 10.3 million people are eligible to register.
The Keystone State is expected to be a crucial battleground in the 2024 presidential election, which could determine whether President Joe Biden remains in the White House. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is also running for re-election in 2024 in a race that is expected to be close.