Constitution Day events celebrate America’s most sacred document

For Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA), National Constitution Day—Thursday, Sept. 17—gives one more reason to get out the vote.

To celebrate this year, OGCA is sponsoring a voter registration drive from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Penn Bookstore, 3601 Walnut St.

Jessica McIlhenny, OGCA’s administrative coordinator, says organizers will hand out voter registration forms and remind students about upcoming deadlines, as well as recruit students to work at the polls on Election Day. OGCA also plans to educate students about a brand new way to register—online. Online voter registration launched last month in Pennsylvania, now the 23rd state to offer the service.

There will be a voting machine in the Bookstore’s lobby, too, so first-time voters can practice ahead of Election Day.

“We try and give students the best experience voting because I think that is indicative if they’re going to vote again,” McIlhenny says.

Philadelphia’s municipal elections are Tuesday, Nov. 3. The deadline to register to vote in that election is Monday, Oct. 5. The Pennsylvania presidential primary is currently set for April 26, 2016.

Students, faculty, and staff who are already registered to vote can still stop by the Bookstore for a free pocketsize U.S. Constitution and a mini American flag, branded with OGCA’s social media handle (@PennVoterEd). For individuals looking for some constitutional reads, there will be a U.S. history-themed display of books in the Bookstore all week, McIlhenny says.

Other National Constitution Day activities include a special edition of the School of Arts & Science’s 60-Second Lecture series. Held at 11:55 a.m. at Stiteler Plaza, 37th Street and Locust Walk, Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, will lead the talk, “Our Unjust Constitution and Still We Celebrate.”

For members of the Penn community looking to take a trip off campus, OGCA urges folks to check out the National Constitution Center at 525 Arch St., where Penn President Amy Gutmann serves on the Board of Trustees. Admission is free on National Constitution Day.

“It’s just a quick [Market-Frankford Line] ride down there,” says Gina Lavery, OGCA’s associate director. “It’s a nice asset that anybody in the city has.”

Want to delve deeper into learning more about the U.S. Constitution? Just a few days after National Constitution Day, Kermit Roosevelt, a Penn Law professor, will kick off the online learning class, “Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases.”

For more information, visit the Penn/Coursera website.

Constitution signing