Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

Poll shows most PA voters want to reform election rules

The Franklin & Marshall College poll found more than half of voters want to change the system

- By Karen Shuey kshuey@readingeag­le.com

A new poll shows that Pennsylvan­ians are not particular­ly pleased with how elections are held in the state but cannot agree on how to change them.

And things have only gotten worse since the baseless election claims that followed the last presidenti­al election.

A Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday shows that more than half of registered voters are not satisfied with the rules and procedures that guide the way elections are conducted in the commonweal­th — double the proportion that felt that way in August 2020.

Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at the Lancaster college, said that those who were dissatisfi­ed with the the way elections were conducted in 2020 were most likely to report that they wanted to change the way candidates got on the ballot.

But now the largest calls for change are for voter identifica­tion laws and eliminatin­g voting by mail.

And, as can be expected, the survey found strong partisan and ideologica­l difference­s in those views.

Voter ID laws

There are 17 states that require photo identifica­tion at the polls. Pennsylvan­ia is not one of them.

The poll found that requiring identifica­tion to vote was the most the popular change registered voters would like to see enacted. Asked to choose one from a long list of potential changes to the way elections are conducted, 26% selected implementi­ng voter identifica­tion requiremen­ts.

That is a much different result from the August 2020 poll, which showed just 1% of those surveyed picked voter identifica­tion requiremen­ts as their top choice.

Pennsylvan­ia Republican­s have introduced legislatio­n that would require every voter to present identifica­tion at the polls as part of a sweeping overhaul of the election system.

Reps. Mark Gillen, Barry Jozwiak, Jerry Knowles and Ryan Mackenzie — who each represent parts of Berks County — have signed on as supporters of the legislatio­n.

Voting by mail

There are 34 states that allow any qualified voter to cast a mail ballot without offering an excuse. Pennsylvan­ia is one of them.

The poll found that eliminatin­g widespread voting by mail was the second most frequently picked choice on the list of potential election changes, with 19% saying that it is top change they would like to see.

That is a much different result from the August 2020 poll, which showed 6% of those surveyed picked mail voting as their top choice.

A bill proposed by Franklin County Sen. Doug Mastriano has been introduced in Harrisburg to repeal mail voting without offering an excuse. One of the co-sponsors of the legislatio­n is Sen. Bob Mensch, who represents part of Berks. Open primaries Pennsylvan­ia is one of just nine states with a closed primary, meaning that more than 1.3 million voters unaffiliat­ed with the two major parties can’t vote for candidates in spring elections.

The poll found that 64% of registered voters favor having open primary elections in which unaffiliat­ed voters could cast a ballot in the primary election for the party they wish, while 33% opposed the proposal. That support reflects a similar finding in the August 2020 survey.

A bill that would address the issue has been introduced in the General Assembly.

The bill, which was proposed by Erie County Sen. Dan Laughlin, would allow independen­t voters to vote for Republican­s or Democrats on the state’s primary ballot. It would continue to require those who are registered to either of the major parties to vote on their respective ballots.

Sens. Judy Schwank and Katie Muth, who represent parts of Berks, have signed on as supporters of the legislatio­n.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States