Andrea Stapleford speaks during the League of Women Voters of Warren County's Sunshine Week event on March 15, 2023. Photo by Brian Hagberg.

Letting the Sunshine In

March 17, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – The League of Women Voters of Warren County held a special event at the Warren Public Library Wednesday to celebrate Sunshine Week.

March 12 – 18 was designated as Sunshine Week in 2023. According to sunshineweek.org, the week “aims to promote open government and shine light into the dark recesses of government secrecy.”

The LWVWC invited local attorney Andrea Stapleford to present the basics of the Sunshine Act and how it works to keep transparency.

“This topic is important to anyone who cares about government in our community,” Stapleford said.

Stapleford pointed out some of the major additions to the law since it was enacted in 1976, such as the requirement for public comment that was added in 1993. The most recent addition occurred last year with the rule that meeting agendas must be posted at least 24 hours in advance of all meetings.

She also clarified one aspect of the Sunshine Act that has caused confusion for some.

“The public has the right to record (public meetings),” Stapleford said.

The League also presented the results of a study it conducted in 2022 that examined voter registration, early and mail-in voting, drop boxes, and voter ID laws.

“The purpose of the study is to get people involved in the voting process,” LWVWC VP of Communication Phyllis Wright said.

Based on the results of its study, the League presented consensus statements for each topic.

In the area of voter registration, the League “supports Pennsylvania’s current voter registration policies and recommends the addition of automatic voter registration with the choice to opt out.”

When it comes to mail-in voting, “The LWVWC supports no-excuse mail-in voting and early voting options, specifically including the options created by PA Act 77 of 2019, as useful tools for guaranteeing a citizen’s right to vote, ensuring that elections are accessible and secure, and promoting universal voter participation.”

Additionally, “The LWVWC supports universal mail-in voting, through which all PA registered voters would automatically receive a ballot in the mail that they could mail in or return in person to the Board of Elections (or drop boxes if they exist).”

The League also ” recommends the use of Drop Boxes to be another secure and convenient way more citizens can vote in elections.”

Finally, “The LWVWC supports only requiring a voter who is voting at a polling place for the first time to present ID.”

Full results from the study can be found here.

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