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Credit: Sophia Swidey

PennFems hosted a feminist voting guide on Monday to help educate attendees ahead of the November midterm elections next week. 

Students established the intersectional feminist club in fall 2017 as a spin-off of the Penn Association for Gender Equity, making PAGE and PennFems the only feminist student organizations currently on campus. The group held the hour-long event in a conference room at the Penn Women’s Center.

College junior Donnisa Edmonds, the president of PennFems, gave a PowerPoint presentation explaining the platforms of candidates on the ballot for Philadelphia voters, including those vying for gubernatorial, senatorial spots, as well as national and state congressional positions. 

The discussions focused on the candidates' stances on feminist and women's issues such as abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and equal pay. 

After the presentation, audience members could ask questions about the midterms and discuss their prior voting experience. Some event attendees voiced dissatisfaction with current voting registration processes across the United States. 

“There’s a need to consider that every state is aggressively different in how you vote and how you register to vote, which leads to more people being victim to voter suppression,” Edmonds said. “We don’t have voting day as a holiday like it is in other countries, so if you work very long hours, it’s hard to be able to go vote early or at all.” 

College junior Tunika Onnekikami noted that voting in a college environment can be different than other places in the nation. 

“Being at Penn, it’s like, you have this idea of what everyone believes with similar ideologies, so it’s easier to hope that something is going to happen,” Onnekikami said. “But being in a bubble, you really don’t know what’s going to happen and who’s going to win what. You can only just hope that things are going to turn out okay.” 

PennFems declined to endorse specific candidates for the midterm elections. As an intersectional feminist group, however, it stated that it hopes voters will choose candidates who “promote values that support the wellbeing of everyone, especially all women in every sense of the word.”

A similar series of events to the PennFems voting guide are being held across campus this week. For example, The Polybian Society, a nonpartisan political discussion organization, will be hosting its Midterms, Districts & Demographics Symposium on Thursday evening for students interested in learning more about the context of the upcoming election. 

“Voting is the most basic way to exercise political engagement and get involved. It takes just one vote to make a difference and it’s a great way to get started and get yourself heard,” College sophomore Destinee Anderson said.