In the upcoming 2024 general election, it is widely anticipated that former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden will once again be rivals. Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, is witnessing a significant development that could have an impact on determining the ultimate winner next November.
Several Republican officials and conservatives in the state were dissatisfied when Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro introduced a new policy that automatically registers voters upon applying for driver’s licenses and state ID cards.
GOP lawmakers, including Bryan Cutler, the Republican leader in the state house, expressed their displeasure with the measure, noting that it was enacted without following the proper legislative procedures.
Cutler strongly believes that this ‘unilateral action’ before the highly contested off-year elections for county leaderships and the state Supreme Court will continue to raise doubts about the security and integrity of our electoral system.
Conservative activists in Pennsylvania, renowned for their commitment to the democratic process, raised concerns that this measure could potentially favor the Democrats. However, Gov. Shapiro responded by asserting that it is actually beneficial for our democracy.
Charlie Gerow, a former GOP candidate for governor, voiced his apprehension about the Republicans’ swift reaction during an interview on the same day. Gerow suggests that Republicans can potentially take advantage of this new initiative and view it as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage.
As backed by a report from the Washington Examiner, it turns out that Gerow’s insight was correct. Since its launch slightly over a month ago, Shapiro’s automatic voter registration initiative has attracted 3,194 Democrats, 4,052 independents, and an impressive 7,657 Republicans. To provide further context, independents have registered at a rate 1,000 votes higher than Democrats, while Republicans’ registration rate has been twice as high as that of Democrats.
State Senator Dan Laughlin, a Republican hailing from Erie County, is optimistic about this trend and shared data obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation confirming these numbers.
Laughlin speculates that voters may be reacting negatively due to President Biden’s policies, emphasizing the party’s obligation to ensure voters are aware of and support their positions. He identifies several key areas that demand attention, including making Pennsylvania more competitive for businesses, enhancing public safety, and strengthening the public education system.
Since September 19 of this year, individuals applying for driver’s licenses have been directed to a registration page through a screen prompt, giving them the choice to register during that process. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, this practice has been adopted by 23 other states as well as the District of Columbia.
The upcoming November elections in Pennsylvania will involve voting for a new state Supreme Court justice, new judges for the Commonwealth and Superior courts, and deciding the fate of two appellate judges on the Superior Court who are seeking reelection.
Both parties are closely monitoring the outcomes of these races. Additionally, municipal races such as county executive, mayor, and school board seats, along with ballot questions, are expected to draw significant attention.
These races serve as platforms for candidates to showcase their winning strategies and messages, offering insights into which voters are actively participating and shedding light on the Republicans’ progress in mail voting, which they had previously ignored for two consecutive election cycles.
Looking towards next year, Pennsylvania will once again take center stage as a battleground state for both parties when determining the next President of the United States. Furthermore, it will witness one of the most fiercely competitive races for the U.S. Senate. This highlights the crucial importance of voter registration in the state.
The general election in November 2024 will ultimately decide who will hold this seat, as Republican businessman David McCormick faces off against incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Casey Jr., hailing from Scranton.