Online voter sign-up due
Voting is essential to a democracy, so just about anything done to encourage more people to participate in the voting process is worthwhile.
State Sen. Lloyd Smucker's proposal would do just that.
Smucker, a West Lampeter Township Republican, is the prime sponsor of a bill that would permit online voter registration.
Senate Bill 37 would make the registration process completely available online. (Now, voters can register electronically only through the state's Motor-Voter law, when they get their driver's license renewed.)
The bill also would allow registered voters to switch their party affiliation or address online.
To address potential fraud, the bill would require registrants to enter part of their Social Security number or another form of identification, such as a driver's license, on a Web form hosted on a secure state-run site.
The bill was unanimously approved by Smucker's colleagues in the Senate earlier this month, and is awaiting action by the House. Gov. Tom Corbett says he's inclined to support it.
By embracing the new technology, more people -- particularly computer savvy young people -- might be more inclined to participate in the voting process.
That's been the case in Arizona, one of the first states to allow online registration.
Arizona experienced a 9.5 percent increase in voter registration between 2002 and 2004, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Now, 70 percent of all voter registrations occur online.
A 2010 study that included Arizona found that, demographically, voters who registered online tended to be younger.
Similar results were found to be the case in Washington, also one of the first states to approve online registration.
In all, 16 states allow residents to register to vote online.
Beyond increasing voter participation, online registration is a money-saver for states (although start-up costs are somewhat high).
Costs associated with paper registration in Arizona totaled 83 cents. For online registration, they were just three cents.
"The idea is to give additional options and provide greater convenience, and hopefully increase participation in voting," Smucker told the Pennsylvania Independent, a nonpartisan number-crunching agency that serves as Pennsylvania's version of the federal Congressional Budget Office.
Another plus: The technology would enable Pennsylvania to move the deadline for registering closer to Election Day. (The current deadline is 30 days prior to the election.)
So, Smucker's proposal would help strengthen democracy, it would be more convenient and it would save taxpayer money.
What's not to like?
The House and governor should quickly get on board with Smucker's proposal, allowing it to be implemented, if not for the upcoming primary, the general election in the fall.