In the 2018 congressional election, 29 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 voted in Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district that encompasses North Central and Temple University, according to the United States Census Bureau.
In preparation for the Nov. 3 general election, Temple student organizations are working to register students through Zoom meetings and social media campaigns, while the university created Temple Votes, an initiative to get students informed about registering to vote and applying for mail in ballots.
After local elections in 2019, the Division of Student Affairs began creating an outline for Temple Votes, said Chris Carey, the senior associate dean of students.
Temple Votes brings together people who work in voter registration and engagement across the university, including various academic departments, administrators, student organizations and leaders, he added.
“There’s a lot of information that’s out there, but sometimes that information can be so overwhelming that you just closed the tab,” Carey said. “Our goal was to really create a comprehensive resource for students that they can find anything that they might need in one place.”
The last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania is Oct. 19. Applications for mail in or absentee ballots must be in by Oct. 27 and ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, and reach county election offices by Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. to be counted, according to Votes PA.
Temple Votes is sending voter registration information through email and social media campaigns, meeting with student organizations and providing faculty with nonpartisan presentations to inform students in their virtual classrooms, Carey said.
Temple Student Government held events like a voter registration seminar with the League of Women Voters on Oct. 2 via Zoom, said Sam Hall, a junior political science major and director of government affairs.
With many students moving home due to classes moving online, a new challenge is helping students register to vote in different states, Hall said.
“Sometimes some people have specific knowledge you know like, ‘Hey, I’m from your state,’” he added. “We’re always making sure that someone, if we can’t give them the answer, they can leave with resources that can give them the answer.”
Michael Dambra, a junior exercise and sport science major, plans to go home to Montgomery County to vote in person for the first time.
“When I graduated high school I didn’t think about voting,” Dambra said. “Now like I’m thinking about it more obviously, so yeah it’s important to.”
Temple Progressive NAACP also plans to hold information sessions and online voter registration drives to inform students about candidates’ policies, said Piri Pantoja, a senior political science major and political affairs chair for Temple Progressive NAACP.
“We don’t care who people vote for, we just want to make sure people vote,” Pantoja added. “Doesn’t matter if you’re voting Republican, Democrat for Trump or Biden, we just want to make sure people have their voice heard over the next four years.”
Sophia Amodei is planning to vote in person in Philadelphia on Election day. She received information from Temple about registering and most of her professors have talked about the importance of voting in class, she said.
Amodei, a junior public health major, is voting because she feels this is one of the most important elections for this generation, she said.
“So much is at stake especially with figuring out the COVID crisis, with our climate, our economy,” she said. “It’s like a pivotal time and it’s also going to affect my future after I graduate.”
Bridget Rizzo, a senior nursing major and vice president of TU Public Advocacy Club, said the club is running social media campaigns through Instagram to compile resources for students.
“We don’t have as many events as we did, but we’re really just focusing on reminding people to get registered, to do absentee as soon as they can so their vote counts,” she added.
Carey found that a lot of students don’t vote because they don’t think their vote matters or they don’t fully understand how to register or cast their ballot, he said.
“There are examples of times when a single vote did matter,” Carey said. “We have to engage in the process because it does matter.”
The Liacouras Center opened as a satellite voting center on Sept. 29, which makes it easier for students to vote, since it’s a short walk from on campus, Hall said.
“Being active in the democratic process is a crucial part of, you know, those extra things people do in college,” he added. “Maybe your parents didn’t vote while you were growing up, and maybe this is time for you to really discover your civic life.”