The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

April 5, 2013

Register voters online

Safeguards can remove worries of fraud

— It’s time Pennsylvania gets out of the Dark Ages and allow online voter registration.

Whether that would improve Cambria and Somerset counties’ often-low turnout numbers on election day is anyone’s guess, but there is no good reason for not making it easier for people to register.

PA Independent reported this week that state Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a Lancaster County Republican, is sponsor of a bill to allow online signups.

“The idea is to give additional options and provide greater convenience, and, hopefully, increase participation in voting,” Smucker said.

All are good goals.

Smucker is not the first Pennsylvania legislator to push the idea. A similar bill passed in the Senate in 2012, but the House left the measure die.

As we are all aware, the voter debate last year focused on voter ID laws that have wound up in state court and will not be in play for the May 21 primary.

Ironically, proponents of the voter ID law contend that the measure prevents fraud at the polls, a topic that some have raised in the online registration debate.

Not to worry, supporters say.

Smucker’s legislation contains safeguards against false registrations: Those who register online would be required to enter part of their Social Security number and another identification number, such as a driver’s license.

And, according to PA Independent, 16 states already have or are implementing online voter registration. Several states, not surprisingly, found people are more likely to register if they’re able to do it online, like in Arizona, one of the first states to adopt online registration.

“The (Arizona) secretary of state reports that over 70 percent of all voter registrations are now performed online, and that the state saw an increase of 9.5 percent in voter registrations from 2002 to 2004 with the implementation of online registration,” the National Conference of State Legislatures reported.

Currently, people can register when they get their driver’s license. Registration forms also are available at libraries, lawmakers’ offices and political party headquarters. All forms are processed through the resident’s home county before they’re shipped off to the Department of State.

In a day when we trust the Internet to process our most sensitive banking and other financial transactions – and even some voting processes – we believe it’s long past time for Pennsylvania to register potential voters online.

Now, if we can just get more people to research candidates and then vote.

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