County executives from Lehigh and Northampton Counties, and spokespersons from
AARP, NAACP, Common Cause, the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests
of the Elderly (CARIE), and the Pennsylvania Council of Churches were among
those who attended a press conference on March 14 2013 at the Lehigh County
Government Center to support HB 548, a bill being introduced by
State Representative Michael Schlossberg of Allentown. The bill provides for
early voting in Pennsylvania's elections.
Marita Green, Voter Services
Coordinator of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, made the following
We are pleased to be here today to
express the League’s support for early voting. We believe this is one of
several essential reforms to make participation in voting more accessible to
all eligible voters in Pennsylvania. ln fact, thirty-two states, plus the
District of Columbia, provide for some form of in-person early voting. House
Bill 548 provides a way for a voter to cast a ballot at a designated polling
place without having to offer an excuse for why they cannot vote on
Early voting is consistent with
LWVPA’s long held position that voting hours should be extended. Early
voting fits in with modern life styles. Today we have long commutes, travel
plans, job responsibilities, and even election related duties that often
make it difficult to vote in person on the day of an election. Early voting
can potentially increase overall participation in voting. lt is also a way
to identify and correct problems before it is too late. For example,
problems with registration or showing up to vote at the wrong polling place
can prevent a voter from casting a regular ballot on Election Day.
The League also supports "no excuse
necessary" absentee voting. ln fact, this is another form of early voting.
However, providing for no excuse absentee voting would probably require
amending the PA Constitution. Early voting, on the other hand, accomplishes
much the same objective and does not require the lengthy process needed for
a Constitutional amendment.
The League of Women Voters of
Pennsylvania supports an early voting system and proposals for its
consideration. However, before such a system can be implemented there are
several key issues that need to be addressed.
First, we must make sure the
system is uniformly administered across the Commonwealth. lt cannot work
one way in Pittsburgh and another way in Allentown.
Second, the issue of additional
costs must be addressed. Such costs should be the responsibility of the
state and not individual counties like Lehigh.
Third, adequate staffing is
needed to operate the polls. Right now it is often difficult to recruit
poll workers for one day much less nine. The League supports moving to a
system of appointing poll workers rather than the current system of
electing judges and majority and minority inspectors who are then
responsible for recruiting other workers.
And finally, the security of
voting equipment is essential during times when polling stations are
ln conclusion, the League of Women
Voters of Pennsylvania applauds Representative Schlossberg and others for
their efforts to provide for early voting across our Commonwealth. We
believe that these efforts, if implemented properly, will help allow greater
accessible for eligible voters to exercise our most precious right — voting.