Philly Youth VOTE 2020!
What would happen if 8,000 Philly teens showed up to vote this November?
"Registering to vote is extreme, urgent, ultimate, high-stakes - It is grown-ass learning." -Lorene Cary, writer/teacher, Safe Kids Stories, Vote That Jawn! to the Philadelphia Board of Education May 30, 2019
On November 5th, we cast ballots for Mayor, City Council, Judges, and other offices that have a huge impact on our students' lives. And with the all-important PA primaries on April 28th, we're organizing with teachers, students, and non-partisan community groups in almost every high school to make sure every eligible senior registers to vote AND shows up to the polls.
This grassroots campaign has taken off and we saw a 157% increase in voter turnout by 18-year-olds in Philly! Now we're asking for support from the top as well. Please sign our Letter to the Philadelphia Board of Education for a Student Voter Education and Engagement Policy. We'll present the letter to the board at their September 19th Action Meeting. Sign up to speak here, or just come to support a district voter policy!
We've been testifying at board meetings since April with positive results. The Office of Curriculum and Instruction, Committee of Seventy, and Philly Youth Vote organized a professional development that brought together 53 teachers, 33 schools, and 17 organizations at the end of August to plan their schools' voter registration and GOTV drives. See the extensive resource folder for all the materials that we shared.
The Board also passed a resolution to recognize National Voter Registration Day on September 24th. Register your school as a partner to receive posters, stickers, information, and access to voter registration webinars. Work with the organizations listed below to plan activities for that day. The fall registration deadline isn't far away!
So for your classroom, here's the 2019-2020 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 suggestions and voter registration forms to GET EVERY SENIOR TO VOTE!
We'll also connect you with organizations 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). Register here.
Connect with Philly Youth VOTE! on social media to share your students' successes and get the latest happenings:
September 3rd - 13th: Register High School Seniors to Vote!
Recruit a team of student leaders. Inspire them with the Vote That Jawn! Philly-centric videos and social media campaigns. They are planning activities and campaigns for teens throughout the school year.
Download a student spreadsheet from SchoolNet and sort your students by birth date and the elections they are eligible to vote in. See download instructions here.
If students will be 18 by November 5th, 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 students don't have a driver's license they can use the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number.
IMPORTANT: Ask your student team to collect the cell phone numbers of students that register. This will be critical for student-led GOTV text messages on Election Day. Use 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. 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 forms in 16 languages you can send home with students:
- Chinese (simplified)
- Chinese (traditional)
- Haitian Creole
September 16th-27th: Hand Deliver or Mail Paper Registration Forms
Deadline Alert: Registration forms must be received by the Voter Registration Office by October 7th, so allow plenty of time to get there.
Both the City Commissioners' Office and the SDP have offered to pick up and deliver your completed forms: Call the City Commissioners: 215-686-3460, or email SDP Curriculum Specialist Yaasiyn Muhammad.
Forms can be hand delivered from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday:
The Philadelphia Voter Registration Office, 520 N. Columbus Blvd, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19123
The Philadelphia County Board of Elections, Room 142 City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107
However you deliver your forms, be sure to keep a record! It takes about 2 weeks for the City Commissioners office to process the 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 28th - November 4th: Have Students Find Their Polling Places and make a plan to vote.
Making a plan in advance, knowing when, and how to get to your polling place increases turnout by a whopping 30%!
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 5th: 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 6th - Look at the election returns with your students!
I bet we made a difference!
November - April 28, 2020 - Repeat for the Primaries!!!
April 29 - June - ...and onward to the 2020 Presidential Election!
Many of your juniors will be eligible to register. Check with your college-bound students if they plan to re-register at school, or apply for an absentee ballot.
Organizations helping with non-partisan civic engagement curricula and voter registration in schools:
Committee of Seventy / Draw the Lines PA / First Vote PA provides lesson materials and is a wealthy source of local election information. Their website is indispensable. See the Draw the Lines Teacher Toolkit. Contact Lauren Cristella.
Inspire PA / PA Student Power Network - Rising from the ashes of Inspire US, Inspire PA is ready to work in schools to register, GOTV, and help schools win the Governor's Award. Contact Andaya Sugayan or James Cersonsky.
The League or Women Voters of Philadelphia is training volunteers and getting clearances to help with voter registration and GOTV in Schools. See their High School Voter Registration Training Manual. Contact Bev Keith.
National Voter Registration Day - Register your school as a partner to receive posters, stickers, information, and access to voter registration webinars.
NextGen Pennsylvania - Organizing town halls with elected officials in schools. Contact Precious Samuel.
Philadelphia 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! Call and ask them to pick up your registration forms. 215-686-3460
SDP Office of Curriculum & Instruction - Offers civics curricula, professional development, resources for National Voter Registration Day, and pickup/delivery of voter registration forms. Contact Yaasiyn Muhammad or Grace Palladino.
Teaching Tolerance - Voting and Voices classroom resources.
Vote That Jawn! - A very Philly teen voter registration campaign. Watch their videos and hear the Vote That Jawn! rap! Contact Lorene Cary.
Voter Education and Participation for Youth (VEPY) - A program designed to encourage, educate and increase voter participation among youth. Contact Rosemary Chapman and Arnold Singletary 215-252-6109 or 215-908-6500
When We All Vote - Voter education and registration programming, support, and resources
WHYY Youth Media Labs - Hands-on media arts training in schools and at WHYY studios. Watch Can’t Be Silenced: Philadelphia Youth Hit the Polls. Contact Lisa Wilk.
Youth United for Change VOTA! We train people to register voters, can do on site registrations, workshops on the importance of voting, get out the vote! calls/texts/door conversations as well as Voting 101 (where do you vote, how do the machines work, what's on the ballot, etc). Contact Kat Engleman.
Looking ahead, Philly Youth VOTE! would like to develop a web API online voter registration app in partnership with the PA Department of State. This is next-level, and would enable schools to register students to vote on computer tablets, and collect contact info to seamlessly coordinate with GOTV (get-out-the-vote) phone and text-banking software. We're seeking experienced web developers to help with this project. Do you have other ideas or resources to get the student and family vote out? Send an email to Thomas Quinn.