State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

As usual, last-minute registrations stream into election offices

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 11, 2016 8:09 PM

A steady flow of people came through the Dauphin county election office to register to vote or change information in person. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) - When Dauphin County Voter Registration Director Jerry Feaser got to work Tuesday morning, there were over two thousand online voter applications waiting to be processed.

Feaser has also seen several hundred paper registrations in the last few days, and by mid-Tuesday dozens of people had visited the office in person to register or change information.

All these people--and more across the commonwealth--are rushing in paperwork to meet the October 11 deadline to register to vote in next month's elections.

Hundreds of those last-minute registrations come from voting advocacy organizations. Feaser said the volume can be difficult to contend with.

At noon on the last day of voter registration Andrew Reinel, a volunteer with voting outreach group CASA, was in the Dauphin County elections office with a stack of over a hundred applications.

His organization works to register Latinos and other immigrant citizens to vote, and he said applications have been pouring in--mostly from non-native Americans.

"We register anyone and everyone," he said. "But we realize there's an importance, there's maybe a cultural gap."

Feaser said says applications that come through organizations like CASA pose some of the trickiest problems in the final days of registration.

Reinel, for instance, brought in a few applications that couldn't be processed.

"When they bring in an incomplete application we can't finalize that voter registration," Feaser said. "And if they wait until today, the last day, they literally have hours to get us the completed information. I find that somewhat frustrating, because it's disenfranchising people."

Reinel ultimately was able to get back to the office with the necessary information in time. But Feaser said not everyone does.

"People waiting to the last minute is always so nerve wracking because we want to register everybody," he said. "Everybody that's interested in having a voice in this presidential election, we want them on the rolls. But we can't put them on the rolls if we have incomplete information."

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, there are over 61 thousand more voters registered in the commonwealth this year than in 2012.

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