Voting summit stresses importance of civic engagement

Jess Kaplan, Print Managing Co-Editor

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge and Campus Vote Project hosted the virtual Pennsylvania Student Voting Summit on Wednesday, Sept. 16 from 1-4 p.m. on Zoom. 

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan initiative that works to improve political engagement and voter participation on college campuses. The organization issued a challenge to universities: universities must help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. 

“I think college students are a really important demographic for this upcoming election, and all elections in general. For a lot of students, it will be the first election they can participate in, and studies have shown that participating in the electoral process early in your lifetime increases the chances of you forming the habit of voting as you get older,” student event organizer Abby Kapp ’21 said.

To join the challenge, universities must first assemble a committee that includes professors, students and administrative faculty. After, the committee develops and implements an action plan that describes its strategy to increase voter turnout rates. The results are then reported to ALL IN and campuses who achieve student voting rates of 50% or higher will earn seals.

The event was one of the University’s initiatives toward achieving this goal. The summit involved a presentation from the Pennsylvania Department of State on college student voting and election updates, a voter engagement strategy session led by the Students Learn Students Vote coalition, and breakout sessions for networking and learning. The breakout rooms discussed the focus areas of community colleges, PASSHE institutions, student poll worker recruitment and the Pennsylvania Student Voting Coalition.

“This was the first time being able to participate in the event, but I think they did an amazing job transitioning to a virtual platform. The Pennsylvania Student Voting Summit was extremely informative about how we can get students on our campus excited about voting,” Kapp explained.  The voter registration deadline in Pennsylvania is Oct. 19, 2020. Those interested can register online by visiting pavoterservices.pa.gov or by mailing their completed application to their county voter registration office.

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