Temple students, register to vote in Pennsylvania to protect abortion rights

Two students urge Temple students to register to vote this National Voter Registration Day because Pennsylvania has an important election coming up and abortion is a key issue.


Sept. 20 is National Voter Registration Day, a nonpartisan civic holiday that has registered nearly 4.7 million voters on the holiday to date. In Pennsylvania’s general election on Nov. 8, abortion rights are at stake.  

Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court ruling that protected the right to abortion, Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial and Senate races are significant in preserving state and federal abortion access. 

Although Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan holiday, abortion is a key issue that students must consider. College-aged women 20 to 24 account for approximately 28 percent of abortions and have the highest abortion rates in the United States with 19 abortions per 1,000 women, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Ninety percent of Temple students support the right to abortion in all circumstances, according to a Sept. 2022 poll by The Temple News. All students, regardless of their permanent residence, should register to vote in Pennsylvania to make their voices heard in the upcoming election because reproductive rights in the state are at stake.  

Eligible voters can register online at Pennsylvania’s voter registration website, which requires a Pennsylvania address. Additionally, in-state students will need a Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT ID card and out-of-state students must register using their social security number. Students must register by Oct. 24 to vote in November, but Voter Registration Day is a reminder of a student’s civic duty. 

There are more than 11,600 out-of-state students at Temple, comprising nearly one-third of all students, which can make a difference in the election’s outcome. They should change their voter registration address to their university residence and vote in Pennsylvania elections because that’s where policies will impact them and their communities. 

“Students need to register to vote,” said Michael Hagen, a political science professor. “It is our duty to our society to participate in elections. This election especially is very important. It could decide what direction the country moves in.” 

The Pennsylvania gubernatorial race is one of the most important elections because of the governor’s power to veto or sign bills into law, impacting controversial issues, like abortion. 

Republican State Senator Doug Mastriano, who opposes abortion in nearly all circumstances, is running against Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has vowed to follow Gov. Tom Wolf by preserving existing abortion access. 

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned this past June, Democrats have attacked his position on abortion. Mastriano now says abortion is not the focus of his campaign, likely because his radical ideas differ from public opinion, WHYY reported.  

Still, he would likely resume pursuing efforts to restrict the procedure if elected because one of the first bills he sponsored as a state senator in 2019, the Heartbeat Bill, would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, and he still currently supports a total ban.  

Mastriano wouldn’t be able to ban the procedure entirely on his own as any restrictions require legislative approval, but Pennsylvania’s House and Senate are controlled by Republicans who support passing anti-abortion bills, WHYY reported

A victory for Shapiro would protect abortion in Pennsylvania because he has vowed to veto bills like the Heartbeat Bill and Senate bill 106, which proposes amending Pennsylvania’s constitution to revoke the right to abortion and abortion funding. 

“Abortion is a major issue in this election,” said Clifford Harman, a Grassroots Voter Outreach volunteer from Montgomery County registering Temple students to vote. “This is a very pivotal election. It could decide a lot of the future.” 

The U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania is also a battle for abortion rights. Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not running for reelection and in the chamber’s current 50-50 split, the party that wins Pennsylvania’s senate seat could sway the legislative body’s balance of power. 

Pennsylvania Democratic Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman is running against Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, and their opinions differ wildly on abortion policy. Oz has said abortion is “murder” regardless of the stage of pregnancy. Fetterman, however, believes the right to choose is essential and must be protected.  

Electing a Democrat to Senate prevent anti-abortion legislation from even reaching the president. 

Volunteers, like Harman, are constantly asking students on Liacouras Walk if they’re registered to vote. Even if students don’t have time to talk to volunteers, they serve as an important reminder for students to register to vote. 

“Every vote matters,” said Madison Miller, a freshman health professions major. “If everyone’s mindset is, ‘Oh, my vote doesn’t matter’, then democracy is pointless.” 

Approximately 1.5 million Pennsylvanians of eligible voting age are not registered to vote,   according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. Some students may believe their vote is insignificant, but that mindset can be dangerous; if more people start to believe their votes are unimportant, then fewer people may vote. Only voting will guarantee Temple students’ support for abortion is heard. 

Almost all Pennsylvania citizens 18 and older can vote in this election if they register by the deadline, and students have an obligation to honor this fundamental right by participating in this election. Voting in this election as a Temple student can help sway a swing state’s race and support the right to abortion. 

Rachel Townsend contributed data visualizations.

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