With all the focus lately on Pennsylvania’s congressional district map, an important electoral milestone may have been overlooked — which is that more than 1 million Pennsylvanians have now used the Wolf administration’s online voter registration (OVR) site. The system, launched in August 2015 by Gov. Wolf, has made it easier and more secure for citizens to register to vote and update their existing registrations. The 1 millionth user was from Delaware County. [Read more…]
The award-winning actress Natalie Portman made several stops in the Philadelphia region as she campaigned for Hillary Clinton, on Monday, October 10th. At the Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee headquarters in Ardmore, a large crowd gathered, including State Senator Daylin Leach and his daughter Brennan.
I got to ask the last question and Ms. Portman gave an insightful and extensive answer.
Earlier in the day Mike Pence, Trump’s running-mate, had held a press conference, avowing his acceptance of Jesus. He pressed his Christian faith, and accepting grace and forgiveness. He called Trump’s “apology” sincere.
I asked Ms. Portman, on the eve of Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur, what she felt about Pence’s pulling the “Jesus Card.” Ms. Portman looked pained as she rattled off all the different ethnic groups and women whom Trump has offended, insulted and threatened. She does not believe religion should be used as a club to beat anyone or any group. And she is really looking forward to having Hillary Clinton as the first woman President.
At another area event, also on October 10th, Ms. Portman’s talk was video recorded. She started by talking about being a mother. (She did not let her five year old son watch the Clinton-Trump debate Sunday night!) Then she reminded audience members that Tuesday, Oct. 11th is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania. She ended with questions from the audience. Video credit: Splash News and the Daily Mail.
State Reps. Brian Sims (Philadelphia), Scott Conklin (Centre) and Tina Davis (Bucks) are introducing a package of three bills to help Pennsylvanian voters:
- Making it easier to vote: Sims introduced House Bill 1506 which would allow in-person absentee ballot voting before primary and general elections and no-excuse-needed absentee ballot voting by mail. It has been referred to the House State Government Committee.
- Redistricting reform: Davis and Sims will introduce House Bill 1637 to create an Independent Redistricting Commission, similar to the one recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ended partisan gerrymandering in Arizona.
- Automatic voter registration: Conklin and Sims have introduced a bill (H.B. 1306) to set up automatic voter registration of all eligible people who obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver identification card, with provisions for opting out within 21 days. Similar legislation has already expanded voter rolls in Oregon and California.
Pennsylvanians are now able to register to vote online, thanks to the efforts of Governor Tom Wolf’s administration. This is not a misprint!
The process is relatively straightforward, as the diagram to the right shows.
*October 5 is the registration deadline for the November 3, 2015 general election.*
This crucial election will determine not only control of city councils, county commissioners and school boards, but also the all-important Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The upcoming state redistricting will largely determine the balance of control in the state’s legislature and Congressional delegation, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will surely be called upon to settle disputes regarding this redistricting just as they have done in the past.
The new online process can be used by individuals registering for the first time, or for individuals who are already registered but have moved, changed their name, or want to change their party affiliation. Pennsylvanians can still use paper forms to register or change their registration info, if they prefer.
To register to vote for the first time in Pennsylvania, a person must be a U.S. citizen and a resident of the Pennsylvania district in which they want to vote for at least one month before the next election. They also must be at least 18 years of age on or before the day of the next primary, special, municipal, or general election.
DNC national director of voter expansion, Pratt Wiley, applauded Governor Wolf’s initiative:
Every day, Americans go online to pay bills, trade stocks, and even adjust the temperature in their homes – there’s no reason why Americans shouldn’t be able to use these tools to register to vote.
Democrats believe our nation and our democracy are stronger when more people participate, not less. That’s why we advocate for commonsense solutions like online voter registration and why we remain committed to ensuring that every eligible voter is able to register, every registered voter is able to vote, and every vote is counted.
Pennsylvania now joins 27 other states currently offering or implementing online voter registration.
Please share this information with others, particularly new residents in your neighborhood and younger people who will be turning 18 this fall. More details are available online.
Carol Aichele is the Secretary of the Commonwealth (akin to Secretary of State in other states) in Pennsylvania. You may remember that when she testified at the Voter ID trial, she attested under oath that she'd never even read the law. And yes, she's the person in charge of overseeing its implementation.
Carol works in Harrisburg, but lives in our area. She stopped by our booth last Sunday. As Voter Registration. Zone Leader, and political activist Andrea Lynch relates:
Noel Boothe and I had just finished speaking with a woman who was concerned about her 88 year old mother. She no longer has a drivers license but wants to vote. The woman asked questions like: What did here mom need for an absentee ballot? Or did she need to go to the DMV to get an ID? The mom really wants to vote.
We could see Carol storming across the parking lot, we could tell that she was coming towards us. She rifled through everything on the table to make sure that we were non-partisan. Of course, we're completely clean. It's nice to know we passed muster.
I said to her that it was too bad she hadn't been 5 minutes earlier, or she would have heard from a woman whose mother was having trouble with being able to vote. I explained the situation, and Carol said “Well if she if going to the Driver's License Center is so difficult for her than maybe she isn't well enough to be voting.”
That was it. Immediately I asked her where in the Constitution was there a health clause related to voting. She didn't take well to that.
The conversation went on with Andrea explaining all sorts of truths to Carol.
Please share with everyone you know that the Secretary of the Commonwealth doesn't seem to care if the elderly, the sick or the disabled want to vote.
Yesterday afternoon, I went with a friend to Chester County Voter Services because we'd been unable to find her name on the Pennsylvania voter list. The people at Voter Services were great, as they always are. The guy at the front counter rooted around in his computer system and found that the name they had for her had an “a” in the middle instead of the “o” it should have been. He allowed her make the change on her voter card, and then sign it. He then made the change in the computer and told her to expect her new card in four weeks.
While we were there, another woman came in, trying to get an absentee ballot for her 91 year old mother who physically cannot go to the polls. She asked if it was a problem that the mother's drivers license was expired, and several people came out from the back and all said to use the last four digits of her Social Security number instead. “That will work” “Get the number” “We want everyone to vote” And that is Chester County Voter Services. I've dealt with them for years as someone running drives, as well as having attended training from them to work the polls. There has always been an absolute commitment to having everyone vote, and to making sure every vote, whether in person, by absentee or by provisional ballot count. Sadly, that isn't true for every county, and certainly not for the state legislature.
And then it was on to Voter Registration. It was busy, and the time just flew by! Big thanks to Marilyn, with whom I've been standing Friday night registration for years, and who knows all too well that I have some hereditary prosopagnosia and is very helpful about my limitation. We signed up new voters, made changes to addresses, and spent extra time with every woman who passed us to make sure they checked that their voter registration was not under their maiden name and their ID under their married name or vice versa. We also handed out a lot of absentee ballot applications for kids who would be away at college, after helping them determine in which state they would be better off voting.
Last week in the evenings, I started going around my neighborhood with my phone, using it to make sure all my neighbors are registered under the name they think they're registered under, making sure they know where to vote if they're new to the neighborhood, and giving “first touch” for those with non-Republican registrations.
Most interesting voter of the evening was the woman who came up to us and asked how she could, and I quote, “unregister”. As Marilyn said, rightly, “just because you're registered, it doesn't mean you have to vote”, I blustered “you don't want to vote!?!?!?” It turned out that she just didn't want to go to jury duty. We explained that jury duty rolls are determined by drivers licenses and not voting rolls, found out that she'd be out of town on election day, and got her hooked up with an absentee ballot application.
All very exciting, and we'll be out there again today and tomorrow.
Remember, you can put www.canivote.org into your phone and determine your state site for registration checks. You can then check all your friends, family and neighbors. It's pretty low stress, even for those of you who don't like to interact with strangers. Remember, the right can spend as much money as they want, but we can turn out actual voters. On MSNBC yesterday, they mentioned that Republican dark money and SuperPacs have spent over $300 million on ads so far, while its only about $20 million on the Democratic side. And the Democrats are still winning on most polls in most places. Think about that for a minute: they wanted to be able to spend unlimited money, they're SPENDING outrageous amounts of money, and they're not getting the traction they thought they would.
Elections are won one voter at a time.
Get yours today.
It's more important than ever! As always, if you have registration questions or need assistance, just drop me a note.
I spent a lot of this past weekend working voter registration in suburban Philadelphia. My compatriots and I had signs, we had tee shirts. We were, for this time of year, inundated with potential voters, people needing to update information, people who needed absentee ballot applications, and most interestingly, people who wanted to check if they were registered, or had potentially been purged.
In the past month, the state of Pennsylvania has purged 758,000 voters from the rolls. If you think these are people who have died, or haven't voted, you'd only be partially right. They've also purged active voters.
The first night, we checked about 20 people, and found 3 of them had been purged, including one who had voted in the May, 2012, primary. I posted the information to Facebook and Twitter, asking everyone I knew to check their status, and between them and the table checks over the weekend: 7 people purged. And that's just people I came in contact with.
If you live in Pennsylvania and want to check if you've been purged, you can click this link. Having a voter registration card does NOT mean that you are still registered. If you live in any other state, you can use this link to find your state's registration check website.
More after the jump.
Starting on Saturday, there were a lot of people who approached asking what Mitt's choice of Paul Ryan meant for the outcome of the election. Since all voter registration drives MUST be non-partisan, meaning that whoever wants to register, to any party, is treated kindly, and his/her application is accepted and processed. Therefore, it was necessary to respond in a non-partisan fashion. The best I could come up with was that the conservative Republicans were very happy with the choice of someone who had written the Ryan Budget plan which dismantles Social Security and Medicare, along with holding all other government spending to 3% of GDP and vastly increasing both the overall deficit and taxes for everyone earning under $250,000/year, and the Democrats love the choice because it gives them a far better chance of winning. If you're a Democrat and want a free “Save Medicare, Vote Democrat” bumper sticker, click here.
No matter how you vote, it's important TO vote. My maternal grandmother was arrested, and went to jail, twice in the 19-teens so that my mother and I could vote today. I come by voter drives honestly, and in Grammie Sadie's memory. Perhaps you'd like to join me. It's fun, it's interesting, and it's important. Even my 17 month old puppy worked a shift, her first of what will be many. If you're interested, please drop me a line at docjess at demconwatchblog dot com.
Make no mistake. This is a seminal election, and its outcome will influence what kind of America our country becomes. We'd love to have you at registration, but you may prefer to work in some other capacity: I can get you hooked up there, too, whatever your choice of volunteering.