Pennsylvana State Summary

October 23, 2014



Pennsylvania is improving accessibility at polling places and the training of poll workers, but it should also implement vote centers, expand opportunities to vote before Election Day.

Unsatisfactory

States should adopt online voter registration (“OLVR”).

No online voter registration.

Unsatisfactory

Interstate exchanges of voter information should be expanded.

Pennsylvania is a member of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck (IVRC), but not of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

Satisfactory

States should seamlessly integrate voter data acquired through DMVs with their statewide voter registration lists.

Pennsylvania has fully implemented electronic voter registration systems with election officials, such that the entire process of sharing information between DMVs and election administrators is digital.

Satisfactory

Schools should be used as polling places; to address any related security concerns, Election Day should be an in-service day.

Pennsylvania has strong statutory language regarding use of schools as polling places.

Unsatisfactory

States should consider establishing vote centers to achieve economies of scale in polling place management while also facilitating voting at convenient locations.

Pennsylvania has neither considered nor adopted legislation establishing vote centers.

Mixed

Jurisdictions should develop models and tools to assist them in effectively allocating resources across polling places.

No statewide rule in place. However, we encourage jurisdictions to utilize the tools made available by the Commission. In 2012, voters waited an average of 9.1 minutes in line.

Mixed

Jurisdictions should transition to electronic pollbooks.

Some jurisdictions in Pennsylvania use electronic pollbooks, but not all do; there is no state-wide mandate.

Satisfactory

Jurisdictions should recruit public and private sector employees, as well as high school and college students, to become poll workers.

Students must be at least 17 years old to serve as “student election assistants,” and must be enrolled in school (or homeschooled) with an exemplary academic record. We encourage election officials to establish robust programs to recruit public and private sector employees as well.

Satisfactory

States should institute poll worker training standards.

Pennsylvania prescribes training for some poll workers but does not mandate it for election clerks (just judges, inspectors, and machine operators). Its Secretary of State, though, does provide a number of short training videos on its website, but no manuals. It is in the process of creating a Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors users manual and online training to instruct all new employees of county election offices on registration and elections issues; it should get extra points for this effort.

Mixed

Election authorities should establish advisory groups for voters with disabilities and for those with limited English proficiency.

No statewide statutory policy in place. We encourage Pennsylvania to adopt this recommendation of the Commission.

Satisfactory

States and localities must adopt comprehensive management practices to assure accessible polling places.

Pennsylvania uses a DOJ-issued accessibility checklist, and has produced an in-depth video exclusively on creating accessible polling places.

Satisfactory

States should survey and audit polling places to determine their accessibility.

Pennsylvania requires an accessibility checklist to be completed for each polling location prior to an election.

Unsatisfactory

Jurisdictions should provide bilingual poll workers to any polling place with a significant number of voters who do not speak English.

Pennsylvania’s (partially covered by Sec. 203 of the Voting Rights Act) statutes and Secretary of State’s website are both silent on bilingual poll workers. We encourage that the state address the matter.

Unsatisfactory

Jurisdictions should test all election materials for plain language and usability.

No statewide statutory policy in place to test for plain language and usability.

Unsatisfactory

States should expand opportunities to vote before Election Day.

Pennsylvania does not offer any early voting options.

Mixed

States should provide ballots and registration materials to military and overseas voters via their websites.

A link to the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) is provided directly on the state’s website, but no link goes directly to the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB).

N/A

The standard-setting and certification process for voting machines must be reformed.

N/A; a federal question.

Mixed

Audits of voting equipment must be conducted after each election as part of a comprehensive audit program, and data concerning machine performance must be publicly disclosed in a common data format.

Pennsylvania law requires post-election audits of voting machine equipment performance. However, because Pennsylvania still deploys voting systems that do not produce a voter-verifiable paper record, a manual audit is not fully possible.

Mixed

Local jurisdictions should gather and report voting-related transaction data for the purpose of improving the voter experience.

Pennsylvania reports on turnout and registrations, but it could do better by way of data on wait times, frequent polling place problems, etc.

READ: Did We Fix That? 2014 Pennsylvana State Summary


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