Governor Tom Wolf today visited the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg and signed Executive Order 2022-03 to greatly expand access for eligible Pennsylvanians to obtain voter registration information whenever they do business with commonwealth agencies.
“We are proud of the free and fair elections held here in the commonwealth, and that would not be possible without first providing convenient, accessible opportunities for every eligible citizen to register to vote,” Governor Wolf said. “That’s why I am designating seven additional state agencies to provide their clients with materials and information on voter registration. This work will support the dedicated county officials and thousands of local poll workers who do their part every election to ensure that anyone who wants to exercise their precious right to vote can do so.”
The executive order builds on the requirements of the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) which mandates that certain state agencies are required to provide voter registration opportunity to clients with whom they interact.
Governor Wolf’s new order designates seven agencies and programs that, as Voter Registration Distribution Agencies (VRDA), will be required to provide voter registration materials and information to their clients:
- Department of State (DOS) 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
Governor Wolf was joined by secretaries and representatives of the newly designated agencies, as well as voting-rights advocates from across the commonwealth.
“With 1.7 million Pennsylvanians who are eligible to vote but are not yet registered, it will be no small task to reach those individuals before the November election,” Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman said. “I thank this administration for recognizing that by collaborating with our state and federal partners to make that effort possible.”
Under the new order, the VRDAs must make available to their clients and customers critical voter education materials, including 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. They must also display nonpartisan signs or posters in highly visible areas to indicate that official voter registration materials are available on site.
In addition, agencies and programs are to link to DOS’ online voter registration application on their internet home page until they can integrate the department’s voter registration web application into their customer portals.
The EO also designates September as Voter Registration Month and encourages NVRA and VRDAs to collaborate with DOS to further promote voter registration.
Finally, the EO directs these agencies to designate someone to be their voter registration distribution coordinator and to provide DOS with quarterly statistics to assess the effectiveness of the voter registration program. Each agency coordinator will serve on a working group, established by DOS, that will support the agencies and coordinators throughout the program’s implementation.
Under the NVRA, the following agencies and programs are already required to provide their clients the opportunity to register to vote:
- Department of Human Services – county assistance offices, state mental hospitals, county mental health/intellectual disabilities programs, and intermediate care facilities
- Department of Labor and Industry – Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services offices, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation offices, and Centers for Independent Living
- Department of Health – Women Infants and Children (WIC) clinics
- Department of Aging Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs)
- Department of Education – Bureau of Special Education offices
- State System of Higher Education – Student Disability Services offices
- County Clerk of Orphans’ Court offices, including marriage license bureaus
- Armed Forces Recruitment Centers
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Complementary Para-Transit providers
- All other offices in the state that provide public assistance and all offices that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities.
During Governor Wolf’s administration, Pennsylvania voters have seen important election reforms, including the implementation of online voter registration and online mail-ballot applications, updated voting systems in all 67 counties, and Act 77 of 2019, a bipartisan measure that brought the most comprehensive voting improvements in more than 80 years, including no-excuse mail balloting for all voters who wish to vote by that method.