Penn’s OGCA helps drive campus get-out-the-vote efforts
In just over a week, United States citizens will take to the polls and vote for a slew of new political leaders. Often termed a “battleground state,” Pennsylvania is expected to play a major role in the presidential race between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Ever since the Pennsylvania primary in April, Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA) has been working diligently on campus to get out the vote. A nonpartisan effort, OGCA encourages students to register to vote, while providing voter education.
Jordan Gallo, OGCA’s administrative coordinator, says under partner organization Penn Leads the Vote, about 500 students registered to vote throughout the past few months. About 150 of those students registered—or re-registered at their new address—during New Student Orientation at the end of August.
“People are definitely interested this election,” Gallo says. “I think so many people are aware and concerned for the future of their country, no matter who they are voting for. Everyone is so concerned about the other person.”
The last day to register to vote for the general election in Pennsylvania was Tuesday, Oct. 11. Since then, OGCA has been recruiting Penn faculty, staff, and students to serve as poll workers at the seven different polling places on the University’s campus: Harrison College House, Harnwell College House, the ARCH, Vance Hall, Houston Hall, Civic House, and the Penn Center for Rehabilitation and Care. Volunteers are given a stipend by the city for their efforts.
“It’s important the Penn community gets involved because everybody needs to vote,” Gallo says. “There are so many students here that are from different states that don’t know what they are supposed to do on Election Day, which is a big issue that we face every Election Day. It’s important for us to help students figure out what they need to do to be prepared, and to make sure their voices are heard by voting.”
OGCA provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner for volunteers on Election Day, and office staff are available to offer guidance if any problems arise during the day—which starts bright and early at 6:30 a.m.
The Penn community can also get involved by helping OGCA cover campus with informative fliers and posters for voters, and also assist in collecting the signs after the polls close. In addition, volunteers can assist OGCA with food delivery and making rounds around campus to ensure all the poll workers have what they need.
“We want to keep the poll workers happy, to keep the voters happy,” Gallo says.
Gallo stresses the importance for Pennsylvanians voting this election.
“Pennsylvania is a swing state, so if people really want their candidate to win, they should really get out and vote,” she says. “Every single vote counts.
“There are also important Pennsylvania-specific candidates, such as the state’s U.S. senator and attorney general, to vote into office that are equally as important as the presidency,” Gallo adds. “Usually they are underestimated how important they are.”
Interested in volunteering with OGCA on or before Election Day? Contact Gallo at firstname.lastname@example.org.