Pennsylvania wants to make it easier to register to vote when drivers get or renew a license

Gov. Josh Shapiro's administration said starting Tuesday it is making it easier for someone to register to vote when they are getting or renewing a driver's license in Pennsylvania.

Under the new format, prompts on the computer screens in driver’s license centers will take the user to a template to register to vote. That leaves it up to them to choose not to register. Previously, prompts on the computer screen first asked the user whether they wanted to register to vote.

Twenty-three other states and Washington, D.C., already have varying models of what is called "automatic voter registration," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Shapiro administration said it does not need legislation or regulation to make the change at driver’s license centers.

There are currently 8.6 million registered voters in Pennsylvania, according to information from the state Department of State. More than 10 million Pennsylvanians out of 13 million total are at least 18 years old, the minimum legal age to vote, according to U.S. Census figures.

States have been required to offer voter registration at driver’s license centers since Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act in 1993.

Researchers from the Public Policy Institute of California, the University of Southern California and the University of California-Berkeley concluded in a 2021 study that automatic voter registration increased registration by several percentage points in states where it was in effect, and boosted the number of people actually voting by more than 1%.