Civil Rights Groups Urge Pennsylvania Officials to Remove Barriers to Voting By Mail Ahead of June 2 Primary

HARRISBURG – All Voting is Local, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and 17 voting rights organizations called on Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and other officials to improve access to voting-by-mail for all Pennsylvanians for the June 2 primary, particularly for non-English speakers and people who lack a PennDOT ID. 

The groups point out that if officials do not act now to remove these barriers to the ballot, voters will be disenfranchised. The groups state: “We commend the efforts of the Department of State and of local officials to safeguard the right to vote while taking other steps necessary to address this serious public health crisis. However, there remain significant barriers to access to mail-in and absentee ballots for large numbers of voters throughout the Commonwealth.”

Among the group’s recommendations that are contained in the letter:

  • Make the online mail-in ballot application process accessible to voters lacking a PennDOT ID Number.
  • Ensure the online mail-in ballot application process is translated into Spanish on the Pennsylvania Department of State website, as mandated by law. 
  • Update the Department of State website and inform Pennsylvanians of all options for requesting absentee and mail-in ballot application. 
  • Ensure jurisdictions mail paper absentee and mail-in ballot applications and absentee ballots to voters with pre-paid return envelopes

The letter also requests that the Pennsylvania Department of State update local election officials about these changes and publicize them through a news release issued to media outlets, including Spanish-language media outlets, and through all social media outlets.

The letter, found here, is signed by the following organizations:

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

All Voting Is Local

Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools

Black Lives Matter At School

Business for America

Caucus of Working Educators

Ceiba

The Civics Center

Fair Elections Center

League of Women Voters Erie County Chapter

Melanated Educators

NALEO Educational Fund

Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development

Philly Youth Vote

Protect Our Vote Philly

Rush Votes Team

Teacher Action Group Philadelphia

Youth Empowerment and Studies Program

Youth United for Change