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Credit: Kylie Cooper

2020 has been an overwhelmingly challenging year, and possibly the most consequential event is still to come: Nov. 3, the day of the 2020 general election. After having gone through a pandemic that forced almost all students to leave campus in March, economic fallout that has led to over 50 million jobless claims, and the overwhelmingly tragic and unjust death of George Floyd, it comes as no surprise that many of us students feel frustrated and powerless. On Nov. 3, turn your frustration into action by voting. 

According to a report published by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement at Tufts University, only half of Penn students voted in the 2016 election, less than the national average among college voters. This year, we must do everything we can to make sure we show up and make our voices heard, especially as youth voters in Pennsylvania have the second highest impact on the outcome of the Presidential election out of any youth bloc in the United States. 

Even though Election Day is a few months away, the time to begin preparing is now. Voting will look very different this year. Penn Leads the Vote is committed to helping students navigate the difficulties of voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they register to vote in Pennsylvania or in their respective home states. All voters should take two minutes right now to register online in Pennsylvania or in your home state, or confirm your registration. For those who are worried about their health and voting in person, request a mail-in ballot today if you vote in Pennsylvania or an absentee ballot if you vote at home. Sign up for infrequent email reminders to stay in the loop about COVID related voting changes.

But Penn students must do more than just vote. We need to educate ourselves on the candidates for every race on the ballot. We need to talk to our fellow students about the importance of voting and convince others to exercise their right to play a role in selecting our government. And we need to volunteer and engage each other within our community. Organization leaders, step up and sign your group up for the Quaker Vote Project. International and ineligible students, we eagerly ask you to participate by volunteering with PLTV, signing up for the Quaker Vote Project, or reminding friends to register and request a ballot as soon as possible if they plan to vote by mail. If everyone takes their critical role in preparing for and participating in this November’s election, we have the chance to show the nation that, for the first time, younger generations will not sit on the sidelines and let others dictate our future for us.

2020 has the potential to be remembered as one of the most significant years in American history. Every student has faced incredibly unique and difficult circumstances. We must come together and make our collective voices heard. It takes less than two minutes to register to vote. Do it right now and encourage others to do the same. If you plan to vote in Pennsylvania, you can get a mail-in ballot, and if you are planning to stay in Philadelphia in the fall but vote in your home state’s election, you can request an absentee ballot

PLTV is here to help with any and every voting related question, or concern. We can be reached at any time by email at pennvotes@upenn.edu. Students are encouraged to visit our website for customized voter information and resources. 

NICHOLAS WILLIAMS is a College sophomore and a Communications Fellow for Penn Leads the Vote.

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