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A voter holding a "I voted" sticker in the 2020 election Credit: Gary Lin

Today, Nov. 8, two extremely close and pivotal elections will be held in Pennsylvania. Polls in the gubernatorial race between Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican Doug Mastriano show Shapiro leading Mastriano by just 10 points. The Senate race, on the other hand, has Republican Mehmet Oz toe to toe with Democrat John Fetterman, with Fetterman leading by a mere 0.4 points. The gubernatorial and Senate races will be critical in shaping key issues like education policy, abortion rights, and health care policy. 

Young voters in particular have the power to shape these very policies and the outcomes of these elections. In fact, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement's Youth Electoral Significance Index found the youth vote to be an extremely influential group in the upcoming election, especially in Pennsylvania. YESI ranked the significance of the youth vote in Pennsylvania fourth in regards to the state’s Senate race and seventh in regards to the gubernatorial race. Therefore, students across Penn’s campus can make a substantial difference in Pennsylvania’s midterm elections if we use our voice. 

YESI also found that the youth of color vote in particular played a major role in the 2020 presidential election. It is likely that the youth of color vote will be similarly influential in the Senate, House, and gubernatorial races this election cycle, especially in swing states like Pennsylvania. 

If Penn students, regardless of how they look or where they come from, can rally together, we can have a real say in our future. By voting, we can decide who represents us and what we believe in. By voting, we can decide who makes the life-altering policies that impact our families, neighbors, and community. 

That is why the Penn community must be more civically engaged than ever during this midterm election cycle. It is critical that Penn students register to vote, make a plan for Election Day, and show up to the polls on Nov. 8. Beyond that, it is important that students research the candidates and are well informed about the ballot. It is also important that you inform those around you about the upcoming election and how to vote. 

To make a plan to vote, you should first check that you are registered to vote. Second, you should identify your assigned polling place based on the address listed on your registration. Lastly, make sure that you have a plan for when and how to get to your designated polling place before they close. The polls are open on Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Being civically engaged is not just voting. Being civically engaged also means encouraging those around you to vote too. You can spread the word about voting, inspire your fellow Penn students to vote, and help make Penn a more civically engaged community by joining Penn Leads the Vote. If you want to join Penn Leads the Vote, you can sign up to volunteer. You can also visit, sign up for our Listserv, or email if you want to learn more about our organization or have any questions or concerns. 

With midterms right around the corner, we hope you use your voice and vote. We encourage you to learn about the candidates and their platforms, make a plan to vote, and empower others to do the same. We ask you to show up to the polls on Nov. 8, and bring a friend or two with you. Because if the youth uses its voice, we can create a better, more inclusive future. 

PENN LEADS THE VOTE is the University’s nonpartisan election hub. Visit for more information.