Pennsylvania Voter Registration

The Center for Popular Democracy, in partnership with Make the Road New York, CASA de Maryland, SEIU 32BJ, and SEIU State Council coordinated the non-partisan “Keystone Votes” initiative that registered 7,200 largely Latino and African American voters in Pennsylvania.

The initiative targeted African American and Latino residents of Reading and Allentown, regions that have high rates of poverty and many unregistered, eligible voters.Importantly, Pennsylvania had also recently passed a regressive voter identification law, which further threatened to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters, particularly voters of color.

In just a matter of weeks, Keystone Votes built a 40-person canvass of community leaders and residents, training local canvassers through interactive training sessions and daily workshops. The team registered 7,200 residents by canvassing bus terminals, parades, churches, commercial areas and residential neighborhoods.

In addition to running an ambitious Latino and African American voter registration drive in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, canvass leaders conducted a community survey to pinpoint the issues of deepest concern to local voters. The collected data were used in conjunction with outreach by Congregations United for Neighborhood Action (CUNA), a local faith-based community organization and PICO affiliate, to Allentown’s immigrant community. Keystone Votes also supported the work of the Advancement Project and ACLU, organizations that brought legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, by identifying potential voters who might be impacted by the law.

Keystone Votes collaborated closely with partners on the ground, including CUNA, which generously provided support, office space and equipment, as well as the Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King Memorial Project and PA State Voices. The initiative was a first step toward building community power and base-building infrastructure in high density communities of color in Pennsylvania.