In the July 20 issue of The Elizabethtown Advocate a story appeared (“More Pa. Voters Now Register Online Than With Paper Forms”) covering the 2017 annual voter registration report of the Pennsylvania Online Voter Registration. Gov. Tom Wolf was quoted as saying that the “OVR has made registration convenient, accurate, and secure.”
State Secretary Pedro Cortes was quoted as saying that “encouraging voter participation is one of the most important things I do.” I must disagree with both Gov. Wolf and Secretary Cortes. The OVR is neither accurate nor does it encourage voter participation and the reason why is because no one is verifying if the OVR data is correct.
In August 2016 I had requested the voter registration files from the Lancaster County Board of Elections. I was interested in the statistics of voters affiliated with the Green Party in Lancaster County because I had heard that many people were switching their party affiliation to Green. What I saw in the voter file was unsettling.
Individuals who I personally know, who had changed affiliation to Green, had their affiliation listed as “other.” It would seem that the OVR chose to send their registration to the boneyard and by doing so they eliminated the ability of a minor party to recognize their membership.
I brought the issue to the attention of the Lancaster County Board of Elections. Although they did then make the correction they informed me that they would not verify their records independently. I then contacted the Pennsylvania Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation to make them aware of the error. The state agency conveyed to me that the county election officials were responsible for proper maintenance of the voter records.
So no, Gov. Wolf, the OVR records are not accurate and no, Secretary Cortes, you are not encouraging voter participation. The fact is by not verifying the OVR data you have created a means of voter suppression which limits speech and accurate representation of the Pennsylvania electorate.