BY MELISSA DANIELS firstname.lastname@example.org
New digital tools are helping purple-state Pennsylvania grow its electorate before the 2016 primary.
Secretary of State Pedro Cortes announced that the state’s online voter registration portal has served 97,800 Pennsylvanians since it launched on Aug, 27, including 60 percent who registered for the first time.
But how many of those users would’ve registered anyway? The state doesn’t say.
The remaining 40 percent of online applications dealt with altering voter information, such as name, address or party affiliation.
First-time voters who want to participate in the state’s April 26 primary must register by March 28, which is also the deadline for updating records.
Cortes said the tool will help the state have the most accurate voter rolls possible during an election year.
State data show 8.1 million voters are registered statewide, including 3.9 million Democrats and 3 million Republicans. Another 687,000 or so voters don’t have an affiliation, and more than 437,000 are affiliated with another party.
In Allegheny County, Mark Wolosik, division manager at the Board of Elections, said they’ve received 6,546 completed applications with signatures, including 4,073 new voters. Another 1,604 online applications were submitted but did not have corresponding signatures, necessary for processing.
Wolosik said he can’t estimate whether the new voters would or would not have registered without the online system, or if the new digital application is causing any cost-savings. But he did speak in favor of the accuracy of the system, with the voter supplying their own information to cut down on any handwriting-related issues in processing paper forms.
“It’s been verified by the voter before it gets submitted to us,” he said.