Philly needs to vote! Only 16.74% of eligible city residents showed up at the polls in the last election. A strong turnout of Philly youth and families on Election Day can have a great impact on our city and the state, especially during midterm and primary elections when so few people vote. On November 6th, we will cast ballots for US Congress, Governor, PA Legislators, and other offices. Teachers need to make sure every eligible senior registers to vote AND shows up to the polls. The best civics education is one that shows students they CAN make a difference!
Here's the lesson plan:
NOW - Early September: SIGN UP HERE to spearhead the registration and get-out-the-vote drive at your high school!
We'll send you instructions and voter registration forms to GET EVERY SENIOR TO VOTE!
We'll also connect you with INSPIRE U.S. to facilitate a student leader training with voting pledge cards, stickers, get-out-the-vote (GOTV) mobilizing, and the opportunity for your school to win the Governor's Award for Civic Engagement (Silver for schools that register over 65%, and Gold for over 85% of eligible seniors).
September 1st - 14th: Register High School Seniors to Vote!
Recruit a team of student leaders. Have them sign with the citywide youth voting campaign Vote That Jawn!
Download a student spreadsheet from SchoolNet and sort by birth date. See download instructions here.
If students will be 18 by November 6th, get them to register now. You can download paper registration forms, or we can pony-mail them to your school. Sign up here with the number of forms you need for your students.
OR, they can register online, but there's an extra step: If they do not have a driver's license or state ID, they must take a photo of their signature and upload it. If you have access to touch-screen tablets, students can sign with their finger.
If students don't have a driver's license they can use the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number.
IMPORTANT: Collect the cell phone numbers of students that register. This will be critical for student-led GOTV text messages on Election Day. Bring along these Voter Pledge Cards for students to sign and record contact info. Studies have shown that making a pledge and a plan for voting dramatically increases the likelihood that a voter will turn out.
Discuss the political parties that students can choose to join (or not). A good classroom conversation starter is the I Side With quiz. Make sure students understand how their choice will affect whether they can vote in Pennsylvania's closed primary elections or not.
- Registered Republicans and Democrats can vote for their party's candidates in the primary.
- "No affiliation" or "Other" (minor party) registrants cannot vote for candidates in the primary, only ballot questions.
See if Parents and Families Need to Register too. Here are downloadable paper forms in 12 languages you can send home with students:
September 15th-October 1st: Mail Paper Registration Forms
Deadline Alert: Registration forms must be received by the Voter Registration Office by October 9th, so mail in plenty of time to get there.
The Philadelphia Voter Registration Office, 520 N. Columbus Blvd, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19123
It takes about 2 weeks for the City Commissioners office to process registrations forms. Have students confirm their voter application status to make sure their registration is complete and correct.
October: Research the ballot and candidates with your students.
Start with these nonpartisan resources:
Then research media coverage and endorsements from a range of organizations.
October 29th - November 5th: Have Students Find Their Polling Places.
If a student knows they cannot make it to their polling place, they must apply for an absentee ballot before Election Day. This is especially important for students that go away to college in the fall, but beware of the deadlines.
November 6th: Election Day - Get Out The Vote!
Remind students to get to the polls and to go as a family! One proven way to improve voter turnout is to send students a text message on election day!
First-time voters must show a photo or non-photo ID at the polling place. Acceptable forms of ID.
November 7th - Look at the election returns with your students!
Did we make a difference?
Other contacts to help with Voter Registration in Schools:
City Commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmidt will both come to schools with voting booths for nonpartisan assemblies about elections and voting. They'll even run your student council elections!
Inspire U.S. - Working in schools to develop student-led teams to register their peers and get them to vote. Participating students and schools are eligible to win the Governor's Civic Engagement Award.
State Representative Chris Rabb has offered to visit schools for nonpartisan voter advocacy. He's also proposed a voting rights bill that would allow 16 & 17 year-olds to preregister! Call or text his cell: 717-512-5310
Youth United for Change VOTA! registration campaign
Committee of Seventy Election Ambassador Corps recruits high school students to volunteer as nonpartisan poll watchers on Election Day. Students can earn community service hours and learn about the electoral process.
Do you have other ideas or resources to get the student and family vote out? Send an email to Tom Quinn.