State's online voting initiative recognized

Greg Gross
Register to vote

More than 31,000 people have turned to the Internet to register to vote since Pennsylvania introduced online voter registration nearly five months ago.

For its efforts implementing the website, the Pennsylvania Department of State was awarded the 2015 Pennsylvania Excellence in Technology award, which recognizes projects that use technology to deliver government service.

From the end of August, when the initiative was launched, through Dec. 7, nearly 51,000 people — 31,317 who have registered to vote and 19,560 who changed their registration — used the state's website, according to Department of State data.

"Believe me, we're very impressed," said Wanda Murren, spokeswoman for the department. "We had no way of predicting the number of people who would use it."

Users can also find their polling place, change their party affiliation and address and other information on the site.

Locally: So far, 1,644 York County residents have used the site. Of those, 993 people registered to vote and 651 used the site to change their registration, according to department data.

Despite the new way of reaching would-be voters, Sally Kohlbus, assistant director of the county's elections office, said some people still prefer the old-fashion way of registering.

"We still have people who come in with registration forms," she said. "I don't see much difference" in the number of people coming into the office to register.

Residents can also register to vote at many state and local government offices, including state Department of Transportation locations when renewing or obtaining a driver's license or at the county elections office, and through the mail.

The Department of State receives the largest number of voter registrations through PennDOT, Murren said, and those numbers have remained steady since online voter registration was introduced.

That could indicate the website is reaching people who may not otherwise register to vote through other means, she said.

"I have to believe some then are being reached through the site," Murren said.

— Reach Greg Gross at

Registering to vote online

Eligible Pennsylvanians can now register to vote by going online.

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.