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Unofficial Voter Registration Site Collects Pennsylvanians’ Info For ‘Political Activities’

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A left-wing website has been using a near-identical domain name as the Pennsylvania State Department to register new voters — with the catch that those voters’ contact information may be used for “political efforts and activities,” according to a report by Broad and Liberty’s Todd Shepherd.

Pennsylvanians can visit the official state website, vote.pa.gov, to register to vote. But some Pennsylvanians may be being duped by a very similar website that isn’t affiliated with the state: vote.pa.

The latter website, according to internet archives, directed individuals to “register to vote” at the top of its homepage. (“Sometime on Monday after Broad + Liberty had requested comment from the owners of Vote.pa, the website was changed so that the top option was ‘Check your Registration'” instead, Shepherd reported. The website’s dropdown menu still offers an option to register to vote.)

Image Creditscreenshot/vote.pa

Voters who use the unofficial site are presumably registered with the State Department, but only after being forced to provide a phone number — which is optional when using the state’s official website, according to Shepherd. If you use vote.pa to register to vote, “don’t be surprised a few weeks later if the website is also sliding into your text messages urging you to vote for your local Democratic candidate,” Shepherd said. A box on the registration form gives registrants the option to “opt-in for SMS messages,” but the form doesn’t say what kinds of messages users are signing up for — and many voters might assume they’re simply signing up for Election Day reminders.

The bottom of the website says it is paid for by “Commonwealth Communications,” not to be confused with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Commonwealth Communications, Shepherd noted, is “a 501(c)4 political nonprofit run by J.J. Abbott, Governor Wolf’s former press secretary turned political operative.” The Commonwealth Communications X account describes itself as “the comms and digital hub of PA’s progressive community.”

The site’s privacy policy notifies individuals that their personal information may be used “in connection with our political efforts and activities.”

Two Democrat state senators even directed Pennsylvanians to the leftist-aligned registration page.

“Please make sure your voter registration is up to date,” Berks County Sen. Judy Schwank posted on X. “If you need to make any changes, you need to have those completed before midnight to vote in the April 23rd election. You can check and make changes easily online here,” she added with a link to vote.pa.

https://twitter.com/judyschwankPA/status/1777423824444678483

State Senator Jay Costa, who represents part of Allegheny County, also linked to the site.

“I really want to earn your vote, but first we have to make sure you’re registered to cast it. Make any updates, changes, or register for the first time before midnight tonight,” he posted on April 8.

The Federalist reached out to both Schwank and Costa but did not hear back. Neither senator returned Shepherd’s request for comment.

House Appropriations Chairman Seth Grove told Shepherd that “Vote.pa is an obvious attempt to steal information from voters or potential voters who are very likely looking for the Department of State’s website.”

“Third-party organizations should under no circumstances collect people’s personal information under the guise of ‘voter registration’,” Grove reportedly said. “House Bill 1300, a comprehensive and bipartisan election code update bill I authored last session, would have outlawed this practice. Unfortunately, Governor Wolf vetoed this bill because HB 1300 contained a Voter ID provision.”


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