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DOS Begins Third Year of Student-Led Voter Registration Program

September 17, 2019 02:00 PM
By: Rachel Boss, Community Impact Manager, Bureau of Campaign Finance & Civic Engagement

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We, at the Department of State, are thrilled to kick off the third year of the Governor's Civic Engagement Award (GCEA) program. We have had two successful years, and now we are looking ahead to another landmark year for high school civic engagement.

What is the GCEA?

The GCEA, presented by the Pennsylvania Departments of State and Education, recognizes the efforts of high school students to educate and engage their fellow students in the voting process. Essentially, the goal of the program is to encourage students to get involved in elections early and often.

There are two main components of the award program. First, we recognize and celebrate high schools that achieve a high level of voter registration. High schools where 85 percent or more of eligible students are registered to vote qualify for the Gold Level award, and those where at least 65 percent of eligible students are registered qualify for the Silver Level Award. To be eligible to register to vote students must be Pennsylvania residents, U.S. citizens and age 18 by the next election.

Second, individual students can earn special recognition by helping to run a voter registration drive at their school AND serving as poll workers in the November election. Poll workers make voting possible by running our polling places on Election Day. Student poll workers learn how elections are run and get a behind-the-scenes look at how our democracy functions.

Last year, we recognized 23 schools with awards at three regional award ceremonies in Montgomery County, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and eight students earned individual awards. All told, more than 3,000 high school students were registered to vote through the program.

Going into the 2019-20 school year, we hope to set a new standard for participation, with even more schools running voter registration drives and more students registering to vote and stepping up to serve as poll workers.

New this year

There are several changes to the program this year:

  1. We're asking all schools that plan to run a voter registration drive to sign up on our website at That way, we can keep you updated about the GCEA program throughout the school year.
  2. The deadline to apply for the award is April 3, 2020, an earlier deadline than in the previous two years. This will allow everyone time to plan to attend a regional recognition event. Applications for the award will be accepted online at
  3. We are adding a fourth regional recognition event, to be held in May 2020. The events will be in Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
  4. The Department of State is no longer official partners with the organization Inspire US. However, schools may still collaborate with outside organizations to help run voter registration drives, including the newly formed Inspire PA.
  5. You can find additional resources on our website at, including a high school voter registration drive Quick Guide and printable Pledge to Vote cards.

Contact us

If you have questions about the GCEA program, contact us at And don't forget to sign up at so we can keep you posted about resources, events and news related to the GCEA. It's going to be a great year.

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