Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro Announces Statewide Automatic Voter Registration 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Sept. 19, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) announced the start of automatic voter registration (AVR) at departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Starting today, if a person is an eligible voter renewing or getting a driver’s license or state ID, they will be automatically registered unless they opt out.

Fulfilling a promise he campaigned on, Shapiro outlined the benefits of implementing AVR at DMVs, which include saving the state and its people time and money, improving security and verification through the variety of documents required at the DMV and strengthening democracy by potentially adding tens of thousands of eligible voters to the rolls. The changes announced today also include the expansion of voter registration instructions in five additional languages, bringing the state’s total to 31 languages.  

Shapiro announced the expansion on National Voter Registration Day, explaining, “Now more than ever, we need an engaged citizenry to move our country and our Commonwealth forward.” With today’s move, Pennsylvania joins the 23 other states and Washington, D.C. that have AVR.

The New Pennsylvania Project’s Kadida Kenner contextualized AVR’s impact in a press release: “With more than 1.2 million people eligible to vote but unregistered in the Commonwealth… [AVR] will undoubtedly help to close the voter registration gap, especially in communities of color where the gap is the most pronounced.” 

The program, which encourages voter participation, also serves as a strong reminder that elections matter. In 2022, Shapiro’s opponent for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), campaigned on a massive statewide voter purge that would have forced every eligible voter to re-register manually. Mastriano also wanted to implement strict photo ID requirements. Last year’s election, which Shapiro won handily by nearly 15 points, served as a clear referendum on the pro-democracy future Pennsylvanians want. 

Read Shapiro’s announcement here.