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09-24-20-pltv-penn-leads-the-vote-sign-register-to-vote-marija-westfall
Credit: Marija Westfall

If last year’s election taught us anything, especially as Pennsylvania voters, it’s that every vote matters. In Philadelphia, we were able to watch as the commissioners live-streamed the counting of our city’s votes, which ended up being critical to the outcome of the presidential race.

In recent elections, Penn students have made massive gains in on-campus voter turnout. According to PLTV’s estimates, in fall 2019, we increased our on-campus voter turnout from the 2017 local elections by 55.6%. Today we have another opportunity to achieve historic turnout. With this being the first election for many Penn students as members of the Philadelphia community, it’s crucial that we all turn out and bring the energy from previous elections to today. 

Today’s local election presents another opportunity where we can use our power as Philadelphia voters to make an impact on the outcome of several important races. While there may not be the same fanfare and celebration today that there was last November, it is equally important that we cast our vote. 

Your individual vote is even more powerful in local elections, where some races are decided by only a few votes. Take the example of this local election in Ohio where seven ballot measures were decided by a single vote.

In today’s election, there are four ballot measures where voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard. One of these is whether or not the Philadelphia city charter should be amended to call on the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor to pass a law decriminalizing the sale of non-medical marijuana for adults aged 21 or older. This election will be the only time to vote on this and other critical questions. By staying home, you’re letting others decide the future for you.

There are several other important opportunities for us to make our voices heard in today’s election aside from these ballot measures. There’s one seat up on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the Commonwealth. This race has become increasingly contentious, with millions being spent on behalf of the two candidates. Whoever wins this race will be able to weigh in on contentious cases in the coming months, with one possible case being about the legality of the redistricting maps drawn by the state legislature following the 2020 census. In Philadelphia, there are several important offices, such as the city controller and the district attorney, on the ballot that control the day-to-day functioning of the city and have implications for local criminal justice policy. As residents of Philadelphia, we have a responsibility to our greater community to vote for the future of our city. 

Penn Leads the Vote believes that every election deserves to be celebrated. That’s why we’re hosting an election day celebration in collaboration with Penn Records today from 5-7:30 p.m. at Penn Commons. There will be live musical performances by Penn students and free cupcakes. PLTV will also be there to answer any questions about the election for those of you who haven’t had a chance to vote yet. If you have any questions about what’s on the ballot today or where your polling place is before the concert, visit vote.upenn.edu

The polls are open today from 7 a.m.-8 p.m., and as long as you are in line by 8 p.m., you will be allowed to vote. If you didn’t get a chance to register before today’s election, make sure to visit vote.upenn.edu/register to be able to vote in this spring’s primary. If you’re interested in being civically engaged in the meantime, there are many opportunities to volunteer with Penn Leads the Vote by signing up here.

PENN LEADS THE VOTE is the University’s non-partisan election hub. Visit vote.upenn.edu for more information.

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