Rep. Kinkead encourages people to develop a plan to vote
Photo: Office of Rep. Kinkead
Our democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people. As such, it functions best with an informed and engaged voting population. During an election, your vote is your voice. The more people that vote, the more likely it is that the public’s interests will be represented and reflected in the local, state and federal policies that are enacted.
So, do you have a plan to vote in the Nov. 8 election? If you don’t, I strongly encourage you to make one, as well as one for your friends and family who are eligible to vote. Casting a ballot in every election you are eligible to vote in is the biggest step you can take as an individual to ensure that our government does the most good for the most people.
All the necessary information and forms on voting be found at www.vote.pa.gov — an online voter registration tool created by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2015. Before then, registering to vote in our state was a time-consuming process done with pen and paper. Now, all it takes is an internet connection and a few clicks.
There are several key dates to remember if you plan to vote, but the most important one might be Oct. 24 — the last day to register to vote in the upcoming General Election. If you are not already registered to vote, or if you were registered and your address recently changed, it’s critical that your voter registration information is up to date before the Oct. 24 deadline.
My colleague, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, introduced a bill to enact same-day voter registration in our state, but until Republicans get on board (they have controlled the General Assembly for nearly 30 years), Pennsylvanians must register well before Election Day. Twelve other states, plus the District of Columbia, allow for same-day voter registration.
The easiest way to register to vote or check your registration status is to visit vote.pa.gov, but thanks to recent action taken by Gov. Tom Wolf, registration can now also be completed at certain state agencies. Once you’re registered, you’re all set to request a mail-in ballot or go to your local polling location between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.
If you plan to vote by mail this fall, you must apply for a mail-in ballot by 5 p.m. on Nov. 1, but you should apply for one through vote.pa.gov as soon as possible to ensure your voice is heard on Election Day.
When your mail-in ballot arrives, fill it out and return it right away — making sure to place the ballot in the secrecy envelope, and putting that in the return mail envelope and fully completing the voter declaration. Then, return it by mail or drop it off at an official drop-off location. All mail-in or absentee ballots must be received by your county board of elections before 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Speaking of mail-in voting, did you know that our current laws do not allow Pennsylvania election officials to sort or prepare absentee and mail-in ballots for scanning until Election Day? This creates a massive burden for poll workers and significantly delays our election results.
I recently joined my Democratic colleagues in Harrisburg to call for allowing the pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots, something that county election officials on both sides of the aisle have been asking for over the past several years, but the Republican majority has failed to act. We could streamline our elections if we allowed pre-canvassing — 38 states already do.
Whether you plan to vote by mail or are heading to the polls on Election Day, make sure your voice is heard on Nov. 8.
Remember, you can contact my office for assistance with any state-related matter. Just email [email protected] or call my district office at (412) 321-5523. Please don’t hesitate to reach out – my team and I are eager to help you in any way we can.