Donald Trump Could Benefit From Pa. Automatic Voter Registration – Republicans are not fans of Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s initiative to provide for automatic voting; however, some say that the GOP could be the net beneficiary of the initiative.
Republicans from the Freedom Caucus in the state House of Representatives sued to block Shapiro’s initiative claiming it undermines the General Assembly’s ability to make law.
“We are continuing to review the specifics of the plan,” Jason Gottesman, a spokesman for state House Republicans, said in late September in a statement to Votebeat and Spotlight PA. “Regardless of legal authority, it remains inappropriate for the administration to use unilateral action to disenfranchise the General Assembly of its constitutional lawmaking duties.”
Pennsylvania was one of the heartbreakers for Donald Trump in 2020 after giving him the margin of victory he needed to become president in 2016. Democrats have counted on the realignment of formerly Republican suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia for their margins of victory. At the same time, blue-collar counties that formerly were solidly Democratic have trended Republican since Trump won.
Republicans Could Gain
“The impact of automatic registration on any one election is likely to be marginal, but even small shifts could be significant in a state such as Pennsylvania, where less than one percentage point separated Trump from Hillary Clinton in 2016 and just more than one point separated Joe Biden from Trump four years later,” Russell Berman writes in The Atlantic. “Several factors suggest that the new system could benefit the GOP in Pennsylvania.
Joe Biden beat Trump by less than 100,000 votes in the state in 2020. The latest Franklin and Marshall College poll shows Biden beating Trump by a 2-point margin among registered voters, 44% to 42%. Berman contends automatic registration would not be to the Democrats’ benefit.
“Although Shapiro is a Democrat, if either party stands to gain from his move, it’s likely to be the GOP. In Pennsylvania, the reform ‘really has a potential to lean more Republican,’ Seo-young Silvia Kim, an elections expert who has studied the system, told me. It’s ‘not great news for Democrats,’” Berman writes.
25 States Have Automatic Voter Registration
Twenty-five states currently have some form of automatic voter registration. Oregon became the first in 2016, followed by the Republican-controlled states of Alaska and West Virginia in 2016. Georgia likewise began automatic voter registration in 2016.
Shapiro justifies the action saying that it would increase voter participation; however, not everyone agrees.
“It’s empirically and just logically the case that if you’re doing anything to reach out to people who haven’t registered to vote already, you’re talking about a population who already isn’t as interested in registering to vote,” said Charles Stewart, a professor of political science at MIT who studies elections. “Of those people who get on [the voter rolls] automatically, you’re going to find a minor fraction of them actually end up voting,” he continued. “So the increase in the turnout rate will be much much lower than the increase in the registration rate.”
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.
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