Welcome to Simply Stated, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s new blog. We hope its posts, which you can expect to see on a roughly biweekly basis, will illuminate the eclectic portfolio of this department – from election oversight and professional licensing to business registration and the sanctioning of athletic events. Or, simply stated, we want to keep you informed of useful things to know that fall under the department’s jurisdiction.
In keeping with today’s inaugural theme, this first blog post announces the launch of the second year of the Governor’s Civic Engagement Award (GCEA) program for Pennsylvania high schools.
The program promotes student-led voter registration efforts and recognizes schools that register at least 65 percent of their eligible students. To be eligible to register to vote a person must be a United States citizen and a resident of their voting district for at least 30 days before the election and 18 years of age by the election.
In the program’s first year, the 2017-18 school year, 2,955 eligible students from 16 high schools across the commonwealth registered to vote.
Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres said we hope to surpass those numbers this school year. He noted the program is a great way to teach young people civics and get them involved in our democratic process.
Participating schools that register at least 65 percent of their eligible students earn a Silver Level Award, while schools that register 85 percent or more of their eligible students earn a Gold Level Award.
New this year will be individual awards to outstanding students 17 years of age or older who both engage in efforts to register their fellow students to vote and serve as poll workers during the November election. Individual award recipients will be invited to participate in a program and ceremony in Harrisburg to recognize their achievement.
The GCEA program is a cooperative effort by the Departments of State and Education, in collaboration with Inspire U.S., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
High schools can sign up directly with Inspire U.S., which supports student leaders as they coordinate peer-to-peer voter registration drives and efforts to get out the vote. More information is available on our website. Printer-friendly Pennsylvania voter education materials can be found at votespa.com.
For Pennsylvania high schools, signing up in September to participate in the 2018-19 GCEA Program is the perfect way to celebrate National Voter Registration Month and to let your students know they can make their voices count by registering to vote.
A reminder for those readers past their high school years who haven’t yet registered to vote, the deadline to do so before the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 9. Go to Pennsylvania’s voter registration application.