Pennsylvania’s voting laws had not undergone a serious update in more than eight decades. While other states took steps forward to make registering and voting easier for their citizens, the Keystone State lagged behind.
Clearly, the time had come to enact changes that would remove barriers, encourage participation and make it more convenient for eligible residents to vote, all while enhancing security through upgrades to voting systems statewide.
Working with the nonpartisan Keystone Votes Coalition, a credible collection of community organizers and voting advocates eager for reform, Ceisler Media helped to establish the coalition as the go-to source for reporters, lawmakers, stakeholders and others following election issues.
Defined and reshaped the narrative around election security and election reform, mitigating potentially troubling distractions and ensuring the debate stayed focused on the issues that really mattered.
Initiated a highly effective earned media campaign -- both proactive and reactive -- that kept election reform and security front and center, and kept the pressure on lawmakers to keep these issues among their top legislative priorities.
Established and solidified relationships with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as with key staff and top administration officials, ensuring the Keystone Votes coalition was central to policy development.
Secured a place for coalition members to testify publicly before lawmakers on several occasions, enhancing the coalition’s reputation as an impartial thought leader on these issues.
Broadened the base of stakeholders -- especially county commissioners, election directors, security officials, and the like -- who partnered with the coalition, sought its counsel, and collaborated for a united approach.
The efforts led to the drafting and eventual passage of a sweeping reform law (Act 77), which Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law in October 2019. The new law ensures that Pennsylvania elections will be safe, secure, fair, accurate and accessible all who are eligible.
Specifically, it creates a more convenient vote-by-mail ballot, allows voters to register up to 15 days before an election, eases the absentee-ballot deadlines, and provides $90 million to help counties finance replacement of vulnerable voting machines and systems in time for the 2020 elections.
“This is the biggest change to our elections in generations,” Gov. Wolf said at the bill signing. “It will strengthen our democracy by removing barriers to the voting booth and encouraging more people to vote.”