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A person voting in the 2021 election at an on-campus voting site. Credit: Jesse Zhang

At the tail end of the pandemic, I am looking for ways to make up for the lack of community-oriented opportunities that characterized the last years. In my experience, emergence from the pandemic marked a renewed personal need to get involved: Time spent acquiescing turned into time spent organizing. I sought opportunities to strengthen my civic engagement at Penn, which I have found through my involvement at Penn Leads the Vote.

Penn Leads the Vote (PLTV) is a non-partisan organization led by undergraduate and graduate students, rooted in promoting democratic engagement on Penn’s campus. PLTV recognizes the unique position the University has to influence the civic habits of the surrounding community. We encourage students to develop and share positive civic habits early in their lives. Penn has the privilege and responsibility of being a civic leader in Philadelphia. As Penn affiliates, it is our responsibility to uphold and execute the influence Penn is situated to have in the community. Penn students have the tools to be ambassadors of civic engagement in the community, and it starts with a vote.

In the 2020 presidential general election, 77% of eligible Penn students voted according to the 2020 National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) Report, marking a 9.2% increase in turnout from that of the 2016 election. Penn’s voter participation surmounted the national college student voter turnout rate by 11%. The progress represented by this data indicates Penn students responding to and acting upon their responsibility to vote, and taking advantage of the opportunity to help create the world they envision. Penn Leads the Vote has worked tirelessly to make this happen, educating and registering students year round. In order for Penn to achieve 100% eligible voter turnout by 2028, it is imperative to build on the momentum from these historical improvements. While we’ve come far, we still have a long way to go.

In an effort to build on this momentum, Penn Leads the Vote hopes to alleviate the stress of the voting and registration process. As Penn students, you are eligible to vote in Pennsylvania or in your home state if you are a citizen of the United States. We can help you change, check, or create your voter registration. If you have an existing registration in your home state, you may, but do not have to, change your registration to Pennsylvania. In a swing state like Pennsylvania, one vote could be the difference in highly contended elections like the gubernatorial race ahead. Changing your registration will not affect your financial aid or residency status. We’re here to make registration easy, so you can vote with confidence.

Keep up with Penn Leads the Vote events on our Instagram and Twitter @pennvotes. Register to vote in five minutes or less, or confirm or change your existing registration with the help of PLTV staff and volunteers. Take advantage of our events to support civic engagement on Penn’s campus and inspire your peers to mobilize too. This fall we’ll be tabling at College Houses, sporting events, and more.

Penn Leads the Vote tabling is made possible by volunteers committed to strengthening voter participation and education. If you want to create a more active and informed Penn, volunteer with Penn Leads the Vote! As ambassadors of youth civic engagement, we need your help registering new voters and providing voting information. Sign up to volunteer by emailing All are welcome to help mobilize, including our friends who can’t vote. Visit our website for more information on different volunteer opportunities. 

ELIZABETH FORD is a College senior studying communication from Glenview, Illinois. Her email is PENN LEADS THE VOTE is the University’s non-partisan election hub. Visit for more information.