Pa. awash in tide of last-minute voter registrations

County election officials in Pennsylvania are working their way through a wave of last-minute voter registration requests.

Since the state launched an online voter registration system in August, more than 200,000 residents have filed new voter applications. An estimated 56,000 people used the system on Monday alone, the final day to register to vote in the April 26 primary.

Now, it’s up to local election officials to process all the applications, address updates and party affiliation changes.

In Philadelphia, many voters switched party affiliations ahead of next month’s primary – and both major parties are benefiting.

Even though the final numbers haven’t been tallied, there has been some major party shuffling in Philadelphia for the primary.

“Democratic voters registering Republican, and that’s really heavily in the Northeast, South Philly and Northwest,” reported city Commissioner Al Schmidt. “And the other big movement is among third parties, like or independent or non-affiliated, or independent or Green Party or Libertarian. That’s really happening in Center City, Northwest and elsewhere … mainly younger voters.”

Across the state, officials were going through the data Tuesday.

“We’ve had no major issues, the online system has been working for us, and voters are very responsive to the timeline we have to turn all this around,” said Kara Rahn, director of Chester County’s voter services.

Rahn said her office should have all the electronic forms processed within the next few days, well before the primary.

“The online registration process does make it easier for our office, where it eliminates some of the data entry needed,” she said.

And Schmidt said the city office is still processing the roughly 5,000 last-minute registrations that came in Monday.

Data from the Pennsylvania Department of State show much of the online demand is for voters seeking to change their affiliation in advance of the closed primary. Approximately 245,000 registered voters have switched this year, with about half of those becoming Republicans, one-third becoming Democrats, and the rest joining a minor party or becoming unaffiliated.

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