York woman on mission to register voters


Pennsylvanians now can register online to vote

For six or seven years now, Jan Snyder has been hauling around a cache of voter registration forms in the trunk of her car.

She breaks them out whenever she meets someone who isn't a voter but is interested in taking part in the democratic process.

And her hunt for unregistered people of voting age takes place at some unique places.

"I do that outside at the grocery store in the parking lot or at the gas station," Snyder said, adding she never does it inside businesses.

The Dover Township woman said she usually looks for younger people, in their 20s or 30s, since they are most likely not to be registered.

"Most of them are really interested in registering," Snyder said.

How she does it: Snyder, a registered Democrat, used to cite the misery of paying high prices of gasoline as a segue to asking if the person at the pump next to her is a voter.

The conversation would go something like this.

•Snyder: "These gas prices sure are high."

•Non-voter: "They sure are."

•Snyder: "Are you registered to vote? Your vote is a good way to help change things you don't like."

If the person said he or she isn't registered, Snyder would ask if they want to register. With an affirmative reply, she'd hand over a registration form.

"I do explain if they don't register as a Republican or a Democrat they can't vote in the primaries," she said. "You'd be surprised how many people don't know that."

Pennsylvania primaries are open to only people registered with one of the two major parties.

Equal opportunity: Though she'd prefer to have people she encounters become a registered Democrat, she said she doesn't let politics get in the way registering people to vote.

"I've had people say 'I'm a staunch Republican,' and I hand them a form and tell them they should register," she said, calling her efforts her civic duty. "I want to get more people to come into the system to be able to vote."

Snyder is a constant at the Dover Township Fire Department polling place, where she drums up support for Democratic candidates each election day. She said her approach is one of the keys to getting a receptive response from people.

"I just try to be a nice, friendly person," she said, adding if someone isn't interested in her pitch, she leaves it at that and doesn't push them.

Snyder declined to give her exact age. She did say she's in her 70s, but most people assume she's about 15 years younger.

"No one believes how old I am. I'm still sharp. I'm still active," she said.

Registration: In York County, 269,008 residents are registered to vote, according to the York County Elections and Voter Registration Office. The office doesn't keep track of how many people are eligible to vote but haven't registered.

Going by U.S. Census 2013 population estimates, there are about 340,000 people over the age of 18, the age at which people can first vote, in the county. That means about 71,000 residents are of voting age but aren't registered.

Register to vote online: Eligible Pennsylvanians can now register to vote online by going to register.votespa.com.

To be eligible, residents must be:

•A citizen of the United States for at least one month before the next primary, special, municipal or general election.

•A resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which you want to register and vote for at least 30 days before the next primary, special, municipal or general election.

•At least 18 years of age on or before the day of the next primary, special, municipal or general election.

The website votespa.com also contains useful information for voters.

You can also register in person to vote by going to the York County Department of Elections and Voter Registration, located in the basement of the York County Administrative Center, at 28. E. Market St. in York City.

The deadline to register to vote for the general election is Monday, Oct. 5. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.