Penn's political groups are spearheading initiatives to increase voter registration numbers on campus and ensure that students have a voting plan in place ahead of next month's primary election in Pennsylvania.
In primaries across the nation, voters are currently choosing which candidates will represent their party in the November midterm elections. In Pennsylvania, the primary election will take place on May 17, and voters must be registered by May 2.
Penn Leads the Vote co-director and College senior Eva Gonzalez said that students who want to vote in Pennsylvania can visit PLTV's website and fill out the online form any time before the deadline. Since Pennsylvania is one of nine fully-closed primary states — meaning only registered party members can participate in the primaries — individuals must be registered as a Democrat or Republican in order to cast their ballots.
As Pennsylvania's primary takes place after the University's final examination period, Gonzalez acknowledged that many students will have already left campus by the time of the elections. For this reason, she said it is important that students who plan to be in another state over the summer but are registered to vote in Pennsylvania request a mail-in ballot and fill it out before they go home.
“[Requesting the mail-in ballot] needs to be done pretty soon to make sure that it gets in, and we encourage students to do that process as soon as possible,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez added that students have the option to stay registered in their original state if they are not from Pennsylvania, noting that each state will have a slightly different procedure. However, in most cases, the registration process can be completed in three to five minutes via an online form.
In the 2020 general election, Penn ranked above the national college and general population averages with 76.7% of eligible students voting.
“Students [at Penn] are really turning out to vote in great numbers, and we’re really excited by that," Gonzalez said. "We hope that we can continue to do this.”
Over the past month, PLTV has hosted events to encourage the student body to register, including a food giveaway for mail-in ballot request fulfillments and informational events at all college houses. They will also be organizing a Wellness Walk on April 29, during which they will host a group walk to the post office on 40th Street so that anyone can mail in their ballot or mail in a request form ahead of the May 2 deadline.
Other partisan political groups on campus have also focused on increasing voter turnout at Penn, including Penn Democrats and College Republicans.
Penn Democrats political director and College sophomore Lucy Kronenberg explained that one of the club’s current focuses is ensuring that students have a plan to vote.
“In addition to voter registration, we’re really trying to focus on making sure that students have requested their absentee ballots," Kronenberg said. "[We are] pushing that more broadly on our social media.”
She explained that students can switch their voting state to Pennsylvania and switch back in future election years, as long as they are not voting in two states during the same election period.
Co-political director of College Republicans and Wharton first year Joshua Frazier said that College Republicans has also encouraged students to get registered to vote and to request absentee ballots, either from Pennsylvania or their home state.
“We want to make sure that whichever state they feel most connected to, whether it’s Pennsylvania or back home, that [students] have the choice to [vote] and the resources to do it as well,” Frazier said.