Your legislators’ stances

How Allegheny County’s state lawmakers want to reform voting

Their bills include proposals to permit same-day voting and voting by mail.

Voters in Pittsburgh on Election Day 2016

Voters in Pittsburgh on Election Day 2016

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
Sarah Anne Hughes

Flanked by their Democratic colleagues, four state lawmakers from Allegheny County pushed their voting reform bills Tuesday in the face of unlikely odds.

The state senators and representatives who attended Tuesday’s press conference have introduced bills to allow early voting, same-day registration, automatic voter registration and voting by mail. But each and every piece of legislation is still stuck in one of the chambers’ State Government committees, unlikely to make it past Republican gatekeepers.

“What we’re doing here is advancing this conversation, making sure it stays in the public dialogue,” state Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia said Tuesday.

Allegheny County Reps. Tony DeLuca, Ed Gainey and Robert Matzie attended the press conference, as did state Sen. Wayne Fontana. Also in attendance were senators Lisa Boscola and Sharif Street and representatives Ryan A. Bizzarro, Neal P. Goodman, Eddie Day Pashinski, Chris Rabb and Brian K. Simms.

Here’s a rundown of how local lawmakers want to reform voting.

House Bill 946

What it does: Allows voting 15 days before a primary or general election
Who introduced it: State Rep. Tony DeLuca of Penn Hills
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Frank Dermody, Dan Frankel, Robert Matzie and Jake Wheatley
Why: We’re in the 21st century,” DeLuca told The Incline earlier this year, adding that work schedules have changed.

This isn’t the first time DeLuca has introduced early voting and same-day registration bills that are (once again) stuck in the House State Government Committee. DeLuca has criticized that committee’s chair, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler, in the past and did so again Tuesday.

“What’s going on here is a game,” DeLuca said. “Let’s put them on the spot. Put [the bill] up and vote it up or down. It’s simple.”

House Bill 945

What it does: Allows same-day registration at a polling place with an ID
Who introduced it: State Rep. Tony DeLuca of Penn Hills
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Dan Frankel and Jake Wheatley
Why: See above

Senate Bill 440

What it does: Allows voting to begin 15 days before a primary or general election
Who introduced it: State Sen. Wayne Fontana of Pittsburgh
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Sens. Jim Brewster and Jay Costa
Why: “We need to find a way to make voting easier,” he said Tuesday. “We need to do something to get more folks to vote.”

House Bill 193

What it does: Automatically registers eligible voters
Who introduced it: State Rep. Ed Gainey of Pittsburgh
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Dom Costa, Dan Deasy, Tony DeLuca, Marc J. Gergely, Robert Matzie, Adam Ravenstahl and Jake Wheatley
Why: “As soon as you become of age, you can vote,” Gainey said Tuesday, adding that notification of eligibility provides education.

The bill allows the state “to begin to educate them by letting them know that you have a right to vote, to participate in this democracy, to learn about candidates and to make sure every vote counts,” Gainey said.

House Bill 1546

What it does: Permits voting by mail
Who introduced it: State Rep. Robert Matzie of Ambridge
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Tony DeLuca, Dan Frankel and Dan Miller
Why: Matzie said Tuesday voting by mail would cut down on costs, reduce voter fraud and “make government more accessible.”