Your legislators’ stances

You’ve got less than a week to register to vote or update your registration

But you could have a lot more flexibility in the coming years if a package of voting reforms passes the Pa. General Assembly.

Students vote in the 2016 election at the William Pitt Union at the University of Pittsburgh.

Students vote in the 2016 election at the William Pitt Union at the University of Pittsburgh.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
Sarah Anne Hughes

Attention, procrastinators: You’ve got less than a week to register to vote or update your registration.

You must do either of those things by Oct. 10 in order to vote Nov. 7.

Registering to vote is not hard. You can do it online here. If you’ve moved or changed your name, guess what? You need to update your registration, which you can also do here.

Miss that? The form is here, here, here.

At the moment, Pennsylvania does not have early voting, same-day voter registration, mail-in ballots and requires an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot. In other words, most voters have a 13-hour period on a single day to vote during each election.

A number of Democrats in both the state House and Senate have introduced voting reform bills that would provide these and more changes in Pennsylvania. Those bills, more than a dozen in total, are waiting for consideration in the State Government committees in their respective chambers.

Sen. Mike Folmer, the Republican chair of the Senate State Government Committee, held a hearing this summer on “various election topics”  — “election issues from a 30,000-foot level,” he said — but not on any specific bills.

The more than two-hour hearing in June was dominated by questions over voter fraud and concerns from county election directors about a lack of funding and poll workers.

Per Folmer’s chief of staff, additional public hearings on “Election Code bills” should be announced soon.

Despite the promise of future hearings in the Senate, some Democrats are frustrated by the lack of movement on these bills.

Colleen M. DeFrank, chief of staff to Pittsburgh state Sen. Wayne Fontana, said the legislator “has been trying to push for consideration of his early voting bill for quite some time now.” Fontana’s bill, which has the backing of Allegheny County’s two other Democratic state senators as well as 10 others, would allow for voting 15 days before a primary or general election.

“While we have submitted requests for committee consideration of the bill, it has not met the interest of the majority to put it up for a vote,” she continued.

Fontana and other legislators have held press events to bring attention to the bills, including one in June led by Philadelphia state Sen. Vincent Hughes.

“I do think there needs to be a movement to get more public conversation about it,” Hughes told The Incline of his bill, which would have eligible residents opt-out, rather than opt-in, to voter registration during routine state business like obtaining a driver’s license.

Hughes said he would not object to public hearings, but said they need to happen “sooner rather than later.” He pointed to Illinois, which recently became the tenth state plus D.C. to enact automatic voter registration.

“If they had the ability to do that, we need to go down the same path,” Hughes said.

There are 16 votes for Hughes’ bill in the Senate, he said — all the chamber’s Democrats. But he stressed that the bill is non-partisan and registers voters from all parties and the non-affiliated.

Below, see a list of the voting reform bills pending in the House and Senate (an earlier version of this list appeared in an earlier article).

House

House Bill 75

What it does: Allows voting eight days before a primary or general election; allows any voter to obtain an absentee ballot
Who introduced it: State Rep. Pam Snyder of Fayette, Greene and Washington counties
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Dom Costa, Tony DeLuca, Ed Gainey, Dan Frankel, William Kortz, Rob Matzie and Dan Miller

House Bill 101

What it does: Same-day voter registration
Who introduced it: State Rep. Ryan A. Bizzarro of Erie
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Dan Deasy and Dan Miller

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

House Bill 427

What it does: Allows for voting 30 days before a primary or general election
Who introduced it: State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski of Luzerne
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Tony DeLuca, Dan Frankel and William Kortz

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

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

House Bill 1117

What it does: Allows for in-person absentee ballot voting and allows anyone to obtain an absentee ballot
Who introduced it: State Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Rep. Frank Dermody

House Bill 1138

What it does: Allow any registered voter to obtain an absentee ballot
Who introduced it: State Rep. Neal P. Goodman of Schuylkill County
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Reps. Dom Costa, Dan Deasy, Tony DeLuca, Dan Frankel, Rob Matzie and Adam Ravensthal

House Bill 1145

What it does: Allows 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote
Who introduced it: State Rep. Tim Briggs of King of Prussia
Allegheny County co-sponsors: State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl

House Bill 1465

What it does: Provides comprehensive voting reform including pre-registration at age 16, voting 15 days before elections, no-excuse absentee ballots and same-day voting.
Who introduced it: State Rep. Chris Rabb of Philadelphia
Allegheny County co-sponsors: State Reps. Tony DeLuca and Dan Frankel

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

Senate

Senate Bill 282

What it does: Same-day voter registration
Who introduced it: State Sen. Lisa M. Boscola of Bethlehem
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Sens. Jim Brewster, Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana

Senate Bill 284

What it does: Entitle employees to up to two hours of leave to vote
Who introduced it: State Sen. Lisa M. Boscola of Bethlehem
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Sens. Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana

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

Senate Bill 608

What it does: All eligible voters would be registered during processes like obtaining a driver’s license or a public benefit. These residents would have to opt-out of registering to vote, rather than opt-in.
Who introduced it: State Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia
Allegheny County co-sponsors: Sens. Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana