"Registering to vote is extreme, urgent, ultimate, high-stakes - It is grown-ass learning." -Lorene Cary, writer/educator, Vote That Jawn! to the Philadelphia Board of Education May 30, 2019
On November 3rd, we cast ballots for President, Vice President, Congresspeople, and statewide offices that have a huge impact on our students' lives. And did you know there are ballot questions about stop & frisk, victims advocacy, and a citizen's police oversight committee? Yes there is! So 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'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 Virtual Lesson Plans:
The Elections & Voting Virtual Lesson Plan Series
Start a 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.
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 Election Day, get them to register now on a touchscreen phone or tablet
If students don't have a driver's license they can use the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number.
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
Deadline Alert: Registration forms must be received by the Voter Registration Office by October 19th, so allow plenty of time to get there.
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
and any Satellite Election Office:
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.
Research the ballot and candidates with your students.
Start with these nonpartisan resources:
- Committee of Seventy - Bring Your Own Ballot Tool
- Philadelphia Citizen 2020 Voter Guide
- Philadelphia City Commissioners
Then research media coverage and endorsements from a range of organizations.
Invite the candidates to your classroom for your students to interview and stream live by the Committee of Seventy. This has been approved by the School District as long as the questions are nonpartisan and students complete a release form. Here's how:
- Candidate Interview Stepper for teachers
- Find your school's political districts and candidates
- Media release form
There are 3 ways to vote!
Vote by mail: Apply for your mail-in ballot at VotesPA.com ASAP! It must be dropped in the mail soon so it gets counted.
Vote Early at a Satellite Election Office: You can apply for a mail ballot, vote, and drop it in the ballot box all in one-stop until October 27th!
Vote at the Polls on November 3rd: 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%!
November 3rd: 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.
Contact SEAMAAC to help with GOTV phone and text-banking to
First-time voters must show a photo or non-photo ID at the polling place. Acceptable forms of ID.
Watch the election returns with your students!
I bet we made a difference!
Connect with Philly Youth VOTE!
Email: [email protected]
Organizations helping with non-partisan civic engagement curricula and voter registration in schools:
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.
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
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.
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.