FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Dan Frankel
Frankel unveils 'Every Voter Counts' package
HARRISBURG, May 21 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, today announced details of "Every Voter Counts," a package of voting reforms, at a Capitol news conference.
"These bills are an effort not only to mitigate some of the potentially damaging effects of the recently enacted voter ID law, but also to bring Pennsylvania's voter registration practices into the 21st century," Frankel said.
Frankel said the legislation's goals are to:
The first bill in the "Every Vote Counts" package would require the Department of State to create a mobile voter outreach program to educate Pennsylvanians about the new voter ID law and to provide free photo ID to those who need it to vote.
"Mobile voter outreach programs were strongly recommended in the Baker-Carter Commission report, the same report touted by some as a reason for enacting voter identification legislation in the first place. With today’s technology – a laptop and a camera – we can visit community centers and senior centers and help registered voters obtain the photo identification they now need to cast a ballot," Frankel said.
The second bill would waive the fees for a birth certificate if a person is seeking the birth certificate to obtain state-issued photo ID. Additionally, this legislation would require the state to reimburse people up to $50 for the cost of an out-of-state birth certificate needed to obtain photo ID in Pennsylvania.
The third bill will be identical to a Republican bill that has bipartisan support. S.B. 1515, introduced by Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster/York, would create online voter registration in Pennsylvania. Nine other states already allow for online registration.
When Smucker introduced his bill earlier this month, he said, "One of the ways of getting greater public participation in elections is to make registration even easier. With more people using the computer for a wide variety of personal transactions, it makes sense to adapt this step in the voting process. It is just a matter of putting the system in place, and this bill gives the legal clearance to proceed."
Frankel said, "I believe the 'Every Voter Counts' package would create commonsense solutions to some of the hardships caused by the voter ID law and help bring our voter registration process up to date. I believe legislators from both parties can and should support all three bills to help senior citizens, disabled citizens, veterans and other affected Pennsylvanians will cope with the new voting requirements."
Rep. John Myers, D-Phila., introduced House Bill 2313, which would repeal the recently enacted voter ID provision. He said there is still time to adopt a fix before the new law causes big problems.
"Unless we repeal the GOP's unnecessary procedural mandate – and relieve the undue burden it will cause on many voters – we will need to brace for an avalanche of complaints on Nov. 6," Myers said. "Representative democracy does not work best when we treat voting like a track meet, by forcing good citizens to jump over hurdles just to get into the voting booth."
Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila., Democratic chairperson of the House State Government Committee, has introduced a proposed amendment to the state constitution. Her proposal (H.B. 1798) would ban requiring photo ID to vote in Pennsylvania, except for first-time voters in a precinct, which is required by federal law.
"Our right to vote is one of our most sacred rights in this country and nothing should be used to deny citizens that right. It's enshrined in both the federal and state constitutions. People have died for that right. No one died for the right to buy cigarettes. No one died for the right to drink alcohol," she said.