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The Student Voter Registration Resolution hopes to ensure that all students have access to civic engagement and voter registration education.

Credit: Gary Lin

The Philadelphia School Board approved a resolution to cement citywide efforts to register young voters and encourage civic education at its meeting Thursday night.

Students, organization leaders, and elected officials spoke on the Student Voter Education and Registration Resolution, which will make sure that all students have access to civic engagement and voter registration education, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The resolution will be the first of its kind in the state to solidify voter registration efforts.

Initiatives in the resolution include voter education and registration curriculum for 12th grade civics classes, professional development for teachers, student voter engagement assemblies, and compensation for “Voter Champion’s” — a designated staff member at each high school who provides voter registration materials to students as they become eligible to vote, reported the Inquirer.

The resolution will codify increased year-round efforts to register all eligible 18-year-olds to vote and provide nonpartisan voter education. 

Many school districts already serve as voter registration agencies under state and federal law, and a voting education curriculum already exists in Philadelphia. 

The resolution comes after over three years of advocacy by youth and democracy organizations, the Inquirer reported. 

Leading the move is PA Youth Vote, a nonpartisan coalition of Pennsylvanian organizations, youth, and educators dedicated to increasing voter registration efforts. The organization hosts youth programming, peer-to-peer voter registration, and teacher organizational partnerships. 

Of the 8,000 students who turn 18 each year in the Philadelphia public school system, in the past, only 15 percent registered to vote, the Inquirer reported. After increased voter registration activism by the groups — including PA Youth Vote — behind the effort, 74% of city's 18-year-olds voted in 2020, a number that surpassed citywide turnout, which was 66%. 

This past September, Penn student groups including Penn Leads the Vote and Penn Democrats also worked to register new voters for National Voter Registration Day.