VRM in the States: Pennsylvania

February 1, 2017

Advances in Voter Registration Modernization

  • Electronic Voter Registration: Pennsylvania launched electronic voter registration at Department of Transportation (DOT) offices in 1995, and fully eliminated the use of paper for DOT-based voter registration in 2005. Registrants type in their information electronically and provide their signature on an electronic pad. Several times each week, DOT employees electronically transmit the applications to election officials.
  • Online Voter Registration: Pennsylvania launched online voter registration through the Secretary of State’s office in 2015. Eligible citizens can use the system to register to vote or update their registration information even if they do not have a state driver’s license or non-driver ID. New registrants without a state ID can sign the registration by uploading an image of their signature.
  • Portability: Registered voters who move within the state without updating their registration can, on Election Day, fill out a change of address form at the polling place for their old address and cast a regular ballot.
  • Electronic Pollbooks: Pennsylvania employs electronic pollbooks in at least one county. 

Gains from Voter Registration Modernization in Pennsylvania

The steps Pennsylvania has taken thus far have yielded increases in voter registration and financial benefits for the state. For example:  

  • During a September 2015 interview with Brennan Center staff, Pennsylvania election officials reported reductions in staff time spent processing registration forms due to electronic and online voter registration.
  • Pennsylvania implemented online registration at a cost of approximately $200,000.
  • After paper was fully eliminated from DOT-based voter registration in 2005, registration rates at the DOT were roughly four times pre-2005 rates.