By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With Election Day in Pennsylvania just a week away, a national voting rights group is giving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania mixed reviews for voter access.
In its new report, titled “Did We Fix That?,” Common Cause evaluates ten swing states, including Pennsylvania, on their implementation of 19 recommendations issued by President Obama’s Elections Commission earlier this year.
“Pennsylvania got an unsatisfactory rating [in several areas],” says Stephen Spaulding, policy director for Common Cause and co-author of the report. “It does not have online voting registration, it does not have polling centers, it does not provide voters an opportunity to vote before Election Day.”
The Presidential Commission on Election Administration also recommended that states exchange voter information and institute a statutory policy to ensure language access at polling places.
But many of these recommendations require legislative action.
“Pennsylvania should have had online voter registration last year,” says Barry Kauffman of Common Cause Pennsylvania.
A bill authorizing online voting registration passed the Pennsylvania Senate in 2013 and is currently sitting in committee in the State Government Committee of the state House. State representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County), who chairs that committee, could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania election officials are putting a positive spin on the state’s showing.
“Overall, Pennsylvania reflected pretty well in this report,” says Ron Ruman, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State. He says short wait times, handicap accessibility, and an easy-to-use voter information web site all show that Pennsylvania is making progress.
“Thanks to our county partners, our poll workers know what they’re doing,” says Ruman, “and we think we do a pretty good job administering elections in this state.”