Press Release

Pennsylvania Voice and Rock the Vote Release Innovative New Pennsylvania Voter Registration App

Android App Is the First of its Kind in the Country, Allowing Canvassers to Electronically Register Voters Directly Using PA Department of State’s Web API

App to Be Evaluated Through a Pilot Project this Fall, Available More Widely in 2017

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. - September 15, 2016

Pennsylvania Voice and Rock the Vote, working closely with OSET’s TrustTheVote Project, have released a free Pennsylvania Voter Registration App, available to Android users in the Google Play store. The app will feed valid registrations directly into Pennsylvania’s new and innovative online voter registration Web API, developed by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Pennsylvania Voice, Rock the Vote and their nonpartisan partners are deploying a pilot project over the next month to evaluate how this technology saves money, offers voters more convenience, and ensures that all citizens — particularly young people, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and working people — have an equal opportunity to make their voices heard.

The Pennsylvania Voter Registration App is unique in that it works without internet access, providing constant access to electronic voter registration without the need for WiFi or a data plan. Additionally, it allows citizens to sign their voter registration application with a stylus, thus allowing the first truly seamless voter registration system in the country.

Pennsylvania is the only state that allows approved third-party organizations to directly upload registrations and signatures to its voter registration database, making it the first state to update its online registration platform with the potential to completely eliminate paper from the voter registration process.

“Rock the Vote and Pennsylvania Voice’s voter registration app is a great example of what can happen when government opens its IT infrastructure to innovation,” said Marian K. Schneider, Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration at the Department of State. “This app will lower costs that the state and counties incur processing paper voter registration forms. It will help ensure that more eligible voters are registered and that their registrations are up to date on Election Day.”

The Pennsylvania Voter Registration App is an extension of Rock the Vote’s existing online voter registration platform, which has registered nearly seven million voters with the help of more than 25,000 partners.

Key Benefits of the Pennsylvania Voter Registration App:

  • Applications are completed on the App and passed directly to the Pennsylvania Department of State for approval, saving both county and state elections officials time and money.
  • Electronic signatures are accepted via a stylus, allowing all eligible voters – even those without a PennDOT ID – to get registered.
  • All applications submitted to the Department of State’s office are complete, significantly lowering the possibility of rejected applications.
  • Automatically captures nonsensitive registrant information that is immediately made available to partners through Rock the Vote’s partner portal.
  • It does not require constant data or internet connectivity to electronically register voters.
  • Available to voters in English and Spanish.
  • Initial release available for Android, but will eventually expand to cover iOS.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen many states taking steps to make voter registration more accessible, although none have gone as far as Pennsylvania,” said Jen Tolentino, Director of Civic Tech and Policy at Rock the Vote. “We are thrilled to be the very first users of Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking API and are looking forward to expanding the Voter Registration App as more states follow Pennsylvania’s lead.”

The app is primarily intended to allow nonprofit field organizations to use tablets to more efficiently register voters than paper applications allow. Pennsylvania’s Web API also allows other entities, such as county and municipal governments, libraries, universities, state agencies, and others to directly register voters with just a few minor changes to their existing databases.

“Pennsylvania now leads the nation in testing and developing the full potential of online voter registration to expand access, make voting convenient, and increase participation,” says Erin Casey, executive director of Pennsylvania Voice. “We worked closely with the Department of State and Rock the Vote for over a year to move this forward. Now, Pennsylvania is positioned to lead the nation in leveraging simple technical innovations of state databases to dramatically increase the efficiency of voter registration efforts by field organizations and to dramatically expand registration through citizens’ everyday interactions with government at all levels.”

Rock the Vote, Pennsylvania Voice and their partners will continue to work tirelessly over the next few election cycles to strengthen Pennsylvania’s voting system through updates that work, save money, and preserve the integrity of our elections.

To learn more about the 2016 Pennsylvania Voter Registration App or the pilot project, contact ovrtool@rockthevote.com.

About Rock the Vote: Rock the Vote is the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in the country driving the youth vote to the polls. Since 1990, Rock the Vote has fused pop culture, music, art and technology to fulfill its mission of building long-term youth political power. During the past six Presidential elections, Rock the Vote ran the largest voter registration drives for young people and has partnered with more than 25,000 partners through its online, multi-lingual voter registration tool. Rock the Vote is dedicated to mobilizing the vote, protecting voting rights and advocating for an electoral process and voting system that works for the Millennial generation, America’s largest and most diverse population in history. To get Rock the Vote updates on upcoming events, election reminders and candidate, visit RocktheVote.com. Engage on social media, by following Rock the Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @rockthevote.

About Pennsylvania Voice: Pennsylvania Voice is a statewide partnership of over 40 nonpartisan organizations committed to engaging and empowering underrepresented communities in the democratic process. Pennsylvania Voice also provides staffing for the Keystone Votes coalition. Keystone Votes is a coalition of state, local, and national advocacy and community organizations dedicated to updating Pennsylvania’s election system. To learn more, please go to www.KeystoneVotes.org

Contacts:

Prerana Swami, rockthevote@ellecomm.com