Rabb highlights voting and electoral reform legislation prior to Tuesday’s municipal elections

HARRISBURG, Nov. 6 – On the eve of tomorrow’s municipal election, state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., is highlighting multiple election-related bills that would make Pennsylvania’s election process fairer and function better while expanding and strengthening voting rights.

“Tomorrow’s election will have large implications for Pennsylvanians both locally and across the commonwealth,” Rabb said. “And that’s why it’s important that we optimize our system to engage every eligible voter, especially our young people, who so frequently don’t or can’t make their voices heard.”

Rabb introduced three pieces of legislation that would improve youth voting and civic engagement by allowing 16- and 17-year-old individuals to pre-register to vote, requiring the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to notify eligible individuals of their opportunity to preregister to vote when applying for a driver’s license or an identification card, establishing same-day voter registration, prohibiting rejection of a ballot based solely on signature analysis and removing the 15-day deadline to register to vote; providing for voter registration in high schools and comprehensive civics and voting rights education, including completion of a civics issue-based capstone research project; and lowering the voting age to 16 years old.

“Voting is a civil right that represents the social freedom and equality we ought to continue to strive for,” Rabb said. “And far too often individuals incarcerated in our state have been barred from this key tenet of our democracy.”

To rectify this issue, Rabb partnered with state Rep. Rick Krajewski to co-sponsor two pieces of legislation that would permit all incarcerated individuals in correctional institutions to be eligible to vote by absentee ballot and require the Department of State to create a uniform policy for civic education in correctional institutions and to provide correctional institutions with information pertaining to voter registration, absentee ballots and eligibility requirements, as well as all necessary forms and training.

"A candidate winning with far less than 50% popular vote is by no means a mandate and increases apathy within an already disengaged electorate,” he said. “Our current system has fostered an environment that creates incentives to ignore whole swaths of voters, to engage in negative campaigning and to prevent voters from expressing the degree to which they are supportive of one candidate over another.”

To reduce political polarization and negative campaigning while boosting civic engagement, Rabb has reintroduced legislation that would allow for ranked choice voting for primaries, general and special elections.

“As things stand, the way we conduct signature collections to secure candidates’ place on the ballot is antiquated and unnecessarily labor-intensive given existing technology to radically improve this critical step in the electoral process, he said.

“The point is, the whole system can get better, and this package of legislation would make it appreciably better and fairer.”

Rabb has also introduced legislation that would modernize the signature collection process, modernize the special election process, require background checks for candidates, require the reapportionment of wards in Philadelphia, establish rotating ballot positions for candidates and open up the state’s primaries to the over 1 million unaffiliated voters currently treated as second-class members of Pennsylvania’s electorate.

According to publicly accessible data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of State, over the past several election cycles, Rabb represents the highest voter turnout legislative district in the commonwealth.