Changes in Pennsylvania's voting laws in the new year

Sign directing voters.
Photo credit Daniel Wright/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As we start the new year, Pennsylvania voters will find a few changes that go into effect when they start heading to the polls this spring. 

First up, you won't be able to cast a straight-party ballot anymore, starting with the primary election on April 28, meaning you can't push a button and automatically vote for all the candidates of a particular party.

However, you can still vote for all the candidates of a particular party; you'll just have to do it for each individual candidate. 

Backers of the no-straight ticket measure claimed it promoted the election of a party rather than selection of a candidate and said it shut out independent or minority party candidates.

Gov. Tom Wolf got behind that idea despite resistance from some Democratic lawmakers and signed it into law at the end of October along with a host of other election reform measures.

Among them, a new option to vote by mail without having to provide an excuse, and moving the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot to 50 days before the election.

The deadline to submit a mail-in or absentee ballot will also be extended to 8 p.m. on the day of the election.

And finally, millions of dollars have been handed out by the state for counties to buy new voting machines to comply with a requirement that a paper trail of the votes is compiled by the machines.