Pennsylvania should join the 35 other states that have some form of early voting in order to increase voter participation and turnout, a group of Democratic legislators contend.
"I think it's time for Pennsylvania to become the 36th state," said state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills.
A bill put forth by Mr. DeLuca would require county boards of elections to establish an early voting site for 15 days prior to primary and general election days.
Several neighboring states, such as Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, have early voting.
States with early voting consistently have higher voter turnout, said Barry Kauffman, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause Pennsylvania, speaking at a press event Tuesday to promote the legislation.
Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, said while all the House members in attendance were Democrats, he believes the issue should not be a partisan one as Republican candidate Mitt Romney carried 20 of the 32 states that allowed early voting in November.
"Republicans are doing better in early-vote states than Democrats are," he said.
Added Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, "There have been no documented cases of voter fraud whatsoever" related to early voting.
Other bills put forth by House Democrats would allow same-day voter registration or allow early voting for 30 days prior to an election.
It appears unlikely such bills will get a vote in the Republican-controlled House, however.
"We want to protect the voting process," said Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Republicans. "Our goal is to protect the integrity of the vote, not open it up for abuse."
A controversial voter ID measure which passed the Legislature last year without the support of Democrats was blocked from taking full effect for the November 2012 elections after a judge cited concerns about implementing the requirement. The issue is still in the courts, with a trial scheduled to begin July 15.
A bill with bipartisan support that would allow online voter registration could pass the Senate this week, then head to the House.
Kate Giammarise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-717-787-4254 and on Twitter: @KateGiammarise.