Advocates call for Shapiro to extend automatic voter registration to social service agencies

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Kathy Boockvar recently spoke with the Pennsylvania Capital-Star about the challenges of and decline in voter registrations through social services agencies in recent years in PA, and efforts to improve registration accessibility for vulnerable communities. Boockvar spoke about the advantages of Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), a more efficient and automated process that not only is better able to reach these historically underrepresented communities, but also makes it easier to keep voter rolls accurate and up to date. Under AVR, every time a voter updates their information through an integrated social service, their registration is updated as well. Boockvar praised the recent expansion of automatic voter registration to Medicaid agencies in 7 states and D.C. over the last several years, and expressed her hope that Pennsylvania will adopt similar measures.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that process matters a lot,” Boockvar said, explaining that examining county by county data reveals that there are regularly outlier county agencies that register more applicants than larger counties because they have established more effective processes in their offices.

One of the advantages of AVR, Boockvar explained, is that it doesn’t depend on the day to day routine of local agency workers. Additionally, AVR means one less thing for public assistance applicants to add to their paperwork.

“If you’re out of work, if you’re disabled, if you’ve got a family to support and all you care about is getting support for your family, and it’s a 30-page application and there’s buried somewhere, something about registering to vote, it’s understandably not going to feel like a priority,” Boockvar said.

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