Philadelphia, June 5th, 2015 – State Senator Vincent Hughes today praised Hillary Clinton for joining the growing movement to make automatic universal voter registration a reality. Senator Hughes recently announced Senate Bill 806, which would change Pennsylvania’s voter registration system from an “opt in” system to a “opt out” system, automatically registering all eligible voters whenever they interact with state government.
Ms. Clinton endorsed this concept yesterday, calling for all Americans to be automatically registered when they turn 18 as part of a package of voting reforms to increase electoral participation.
“I am absolutely thrilled that a national leader like Hillary Clinton has endorsed the idea of automatic universal voter registration,” said Senator Hughes. “This is a clear indication that there is growing momentum behind this concept. I’m proud to be one of the first lawmakers in the nation to offer this type of legislation and hope the national attention that this proposal is receiving will not go unnoticed by my colleagues in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.”
Clinton made her remarks during a speech at Texas Southern University in Houston. She said that universal registration was the antidote to recent partisan attacks on the right to vote. Clinton specifically cited so-called “Voter ID” legislation that has been passed by Republican-controlled legislatures in numerous states, including Pennsylvania.
“Everyone, every young man or young woman, in every state in the union should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18—unless they actively choose to opt out,” said Clinton. “I believe this would have a profound impact on our elections and our democracy.”
Senator Hughes’ bill, which was announced on the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of the Voting Rights Act, would automatically register any eligible voter whenever they presented proper paperwork or identification for any other interaction with state government. This would include obtaining a drivers license, hunting permit, or accessing various types of social services.
“We know that there are needless barriers to participation built into our electoral system,” said Senator Hughes. “My legislation for automatic universal voter registration would be a major step in correcting this problem. It’s a great step forward that someone with the stature of Hillary Clinton has endorsed the idea.”
Senator Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He is also the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.