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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s already done in 22 other states — giving all voters the chance to vote by mail.
And three states — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — have done away with voting in person altogether.
So is Pennsylvania updating its laws on voting?
“We want more people to exercise their right to vote and participate in the process,” PA Rep. Rob Matzie, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
Matzie, an Ambridge Democrat, has a bill with bi-partisan support in the state legislature that would open up voting by mail to anyone who wishes, not just those eligible for absentee ballots.
“My bill would allow anybody that chose to participate in vote by mail to make a request of the county in which they reside to get a ballot by mail in the same process that they do for an absentee ballot.”
Right now, vote by mail is limited to those with medical issues or those out of town on election day, like students or those away on business or vacation.
Matzie’s bill opens it up to all, boosting turnout.
“When you’re looking at municipal elections at 20, 25 percent or less, the only time you get anything above 50 percent is every four years when you have a presidential election, this will allow more people to participate,” he said. “Quite honestly, if you’re the public, this forces elective officials to be more responsive to their constituency.”
Once a person requested to vote by mail, they would continue to get a vote-by-mail ballot in all future elections until they opted out.
So could this happen in time for the 2020 presidential election?
“You know how things work at the Capitol, whether it’s Harrisburg or Washington, not necessarily work in an expeditious way,” added Matzie. “So I’m not necessarily holding my breath. I’m hopeful that we can get to the point where it does receive the attention that the legislative process allows.”
To get a hearing on his bill, Democrat Matzie needs support from Republicans who control the General Assembly in Harrisburg.
Interestingly, as many Republican states have adopted vote by mail as Democratic states.
One concern is potential fraud. Will the person actually getting the ballot in the mail be the one voting?
Experts say this has not been a problem with absentee voting.