A new voter registration initiative aims to get Philly high school students to the polls on Nov. 6 - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 21, 2018 12:00 pm

A new voter registration initiative aims to get Philly high school students to the polls on Nov. 6

The City of Philadelphia's Office of Youth Engagement and the Urban League of Philadelphia are visiting three schools on Sept. 25, National Voter Registration Day.

March for Our Lives 2018, a protest led by young people.

(Photo via facebook.com/marchforourlives)

Reminder: The next general election — when Pennsylvanians will vote for a governor, lieutenant governor, one senator and more — is Tuesday, Nov. 6. The last day to register to vote before this election is Oct. 9.

Locally, registered young people have voted at rates around 12 percent in recent years, though the group also offered the only increase in turnout in this May’s primaries.

But there’s been a nationwide surge in recent months of voter registration among people between the ages 18 to 29, especially in Pennsylvania, according to analysis by data firm TargetSmart:

“The state-by-state analysis shows that younger voters are poised to have an outsized impact in key battleground races. Pennsylvania — which has November elections for U.S. Senator, Governor, and many critical House races — saw youth voter registration surge by over 16 points after February 14, jumping from 45.2 percent to 61.4 percent of new registrants.”

(WHYY explores whether that data is sound here.)

Youth voter registration is a major platform of the March for Our Lives movement that has followed February’s mass shooting in Parkland, Fl. Likewise, a new partnership between the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Youth Engagement (OYE) and the Urban League of Philadelphia aims to increase the number of registered high school students by Nov. 6.

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On Tuesday, Sept. 25 — National Voter Registration Day — the partners will visit three Philadelphia high schools to educate teens on their voting rights, and to register those eligible to vote.

The participating schools are Science Leadership Academy in Center City, South Philadelphia High School in South Philly and George Washington High School in the Northeast, each of which are attended by members of OYE’s Philadelphia Youth Commission, a body of 21 young people between the ages of 12 to 23 who advise the city on youth issues.

“Our city is full of brilliant young minds that want their voice to be heard,” said Office of Youth Engagement Director Ricardo Calderón in a statement. “We’ve witnessed the younger generation take a major step forward in recent years through their organizing, advocacy, influence and action, around issues that matter to them — gun violence, climate change and gender equality, among many others. Voting is another opportunity for them to continue their journey of exercising their civic and social responsibilities to improve the world around them, and we are excited to support that process.”

The initiative was inspired by Mayor Jim Kenney’s participation in the national Mayors for Our Lives pledge, which signaled a commitment to easing young people’s ability to vote.

“Our democracy depends on civic participation from our residents,” Kenney said. “Our youth are our nation’s next leaders and change makers. It is critical that our young people contribute their diverse perspectives to our local and national dialogue to broaden what we imagine possible in this country.”

Let’s hope those registrations turn into votes on Nov. 6.

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