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Ahead of pivotal 2022 Pa. election, Wolf administration expands access to voter registration forms

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The order expands on an existing federal law that requires certain state agencies, including the departments of Health and Human Services, to provide clients the opportunity to register to vote.
The order expands on an existing federal law that requires certain state agencies, including the departments of Health and Human Services, to provide clients the opportunity to register to vote.
TOM GRALISH / Philadelphia Inquirer

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HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania will now offer voter registration forms at libraries, state park offices, and state-run veterans homes, among other locations, as part of an enhanced effort to reach about 1.7 million people eligible to vote but who are not registered.

The order, signed Sept. 7 by Gov. Tom Wolf, expands on an existing federal law that requires certain state agencies, including the departments of Health and Human Services, to provide clients the opportunity to register to vote.

“It’s all about meeting people where they are and providing multiple options for voters,” Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said at a news conference. “We want to make voter registration accessible for every voter in Pennsylvania.”

Among the seven state agencies and programs that must now offer registration information, voting advocates highlighted community corrections centers that serve incarcerated people nearing the end of their prison term, and CareerLink offices that help people find work.

People who use those services are often left out of the electoral process, said Salewa Ogunmefun, executive director of Pennsylvania Voice, a pro-democracy advocacy group.

In particular, providing voter registration forms to people exiting prison “empowers them and reminds them of the civic role they still play and the value that they still bring to the communities,” Ogunmefun said.

Under the order, voter registration forms will also be available at certain public Department of State locations and during public events at the state Farm Show Complex.

All locations must make available an “official voter registration mail application that is not specific to any county election office, an accompanying non-postage-paid envelope, and instructions explaining where the completed voter registration application should be sent,” according to Wolf’s office.

All newly designated locations will be required to put up signs advertising the forms.

Chapman said the state has already distributed 100,000 forms to the new locales, and that they will be conducting training on the forms for state employees “very soon.”

In 2015, the Wolf administration created an online portal for people to register to vote. The deadline to register to vote for the upcoming election on Nov. 8, 2022 — which includes high-stakes races for governor and U.S. Senate — is Oct. 24.

Below are the locations that will now offer forms:

  • Department of State at public Bureau of Elections, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, and Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations locations

  • Department of Agriculture at events at the Farm Show Complex

  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at 121 state park office locations

  • Department of Corrections in connection with Bureau of Community Corrections services

  • Department of Education at library locations

  • Labor and Industry programs at CareerLink offices

  • Department of Military and Veterans Affairs at state veterans homes

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