Students to staff and watch polls


Penn Leads the Vote and elections class will take shifts at campus polling locations




College senior Abby Tran has an early morning and a long day ahead of her. She and other members of Penn Leads the Vote will begin their day at the polls at 6 a.m. to coordinate get-out-the-vote efforts.

About 40 students from PLTV will be scattered throughout campus operating and manning the voting process. They will check in voters, explain the process to first-time voters and tabulate numbers at the end of the day.

PLTV has been working all semester to register and educate voters. Their final count tallied to 1,650 voter registration forms.

Many of these students are also enrolled in political science professor John DiIulio’s “Elections and Engagement” class, where students get to witness a presidential election firsthand.

They’ll do it by spending long shifts at polling locations around campus and manning information booths around campus. They will also serve as poll watchers at various locations in Ward 27, which includes Penn’s campus.

“Students get to see firsthand how elections are conducted in the city of Philadelphia, from opening up the polls to checking students in to recording the votes at the end of the day,” said Joe Tierney, a teaching assistant for the class and executive director of the Fox Leadership Program. “It’s a very valuable experience.”

Polling locations on campus mostly serve students who live in college houses and nearby off-campus housing. Poll workers are traditionally residents of the precincts in which they live.

The Office of Government and Community Affairs works with the City Commissioner’s office and supports PLTV’s efforts.

“We try to adjust for differences between traditional communities with permanent residents and Penn’s campus which doesn’t have a consistent residential base,” OGCA Director Dawn Deitch said.

The office also introduces students to the potential to serve on election boards and to get as many people voting as possible, according to Deitch.

Students are also assuming poll watching duties.

“Legally, each party is allowed to have one person watching the poll to prevent voter fraud and monitor who’s voted and who hasn’t,” said Tran, who is on the PLTV Executive Board and is a Daily Pennsylvanian associate design editor.

In addition to staffing information tables throughout the day, PLTV will also conduct a “war room” in the late afternoon.

“We’ll look in our databases and look up who hasn’t voted yet that’s a Penn student,” Tran said. They then call students on the list to remind them to vote.

College senior Maya Spitzer, who is enrolled in the class, is excited to be a part of the Election Day effort. Though it isn’t her first time voting, it’s her first time on the other side of things.

“I’m very much looking forward to helping out tomorrow and getting as many people from the Penn community as possible to turn out to vote,” she said in an email.

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