Registration deadline looms for voters in the ‘Dark Ages’ state of Pennsylvania

As Pennsylvania’s registration window for those who want to cast a ballot in next month’s presidential election comes to a close today, voters in many other states are finding that they have a little more breathing room.

About 85 percent of U.S. states have more options than Pennsylvania when it comes to voter registration deadlines. Twenty-six states have a later deadline, while 16 offer more time to voters who register in person. Nine of those states allow in-person registration the day of the election, and one allows citizens to vote during an early “one stop” period. Only seven states have an earlier deadline of Oct. 6, and three of them allow for later in-person registration.

“Pennsylvania is a state that makes it hard to vote, relative to other states,” President and CEO of political watchdog Committee of Seventy Zack Stalberg said. “And so the trend has been early voting and late registration and a variety of other issues that would encourage voting. Exactly why Pennsylvania is in the Dark Ages as it relates to this is probably a matter for speculation, but it’s not good because it helps discourage interest in voting and really bring down the turnout.”

Volunteers canvassing 15th Street with the Obama for America campaign yesterday shared Stalberg’s sentiment. “I think [Gov. Tom] Corbett is a big problem,” Ginny Stin said. “He’s really made some negative decisions for the voting public.” But she said that the state’s registration turnout this year, overall, has been unprecedented. “We’ve had a wonderful turnout since July,” she said “And when you needed a photo ID, people were fired up. They did not like that – they were very angry at the Republicans and at Corbett. They were coming out in droves to register.”

Philadelphia man Michael Metzler, who stopped at the Obama for America table to register yesterday, was certainly fired up. “I’m registering because of the debate,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I get my voice heard, even if it’s one vote. Romney cannot be elected. He’s going to take Big Bird away from my grandchild.”