(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler)
(*This story was updated at 3:32 p.m. on Monday, 11/7/22 to correct the spelling of Temple College Democrats E-Board member, Jonanthan Iacovelli’s last name)
PHILADELPHIA – The way Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley sees it, with high-profile races on the ballot, and key issues at stake on Election Day, there are plenty of reasons for Philadelphians to cast their ballots on Tuesday.
But she’s hoping voters in Pennsylvania’s largest city will keep one big reason in mind.
“Everyone should come out and vote in Philadelphia for a variety of reasons, but the most important one is because we are the birthplace of democracy,” she told the Capital-Star. “The way to keep this democracy going is through casting your vote.”
According to Pew Research Center data, 66 percent of Philadelphia’s registered voters cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election. After seeing high voter turnout rates, city officials are hoping for similar numbers on Tuesday.
“I hope we see the same numbers we saw in 2020, or even more, because this Senate seat is extra important due to the fact that the balance of the Senate could be determined by Pennsylvanians,” Deeley said.
Along with the rest of the state, Philadelphia voters will pick the commonwealth’s next U.S senator and its next governor. They’ll also vote for members of the General Assembly, and, critically, fill a pair of vacant, at-large seats on Philadelphia City Council.
To help mobilize voters, Deeley spreads the word through visiting civic associations, leading community meetings, partnering with organizations such as the Philadelphia Eagles, going to local supermarkets, and teaming up with other elected officials and their events.
“I am most excited about our outreach initiative through the Voter Champion program at the School District of Philadelphia,” Deeley said. “We work with the school district to coordinate with their efforts to get all eligible senior students registered to vote. Last year the school district passed a resolution to put a Voter Champion in each high school to make sure that our young people are getting registered to vote.”
Temple College Democrats E-Board member, Jonanthan Iacovelli, works with his fellow club members to get Temple University students registered and out to vote.
“Temple College Democrats had a table at Temple’s welcome week, where we were making sure that people who came up to our table were registered to vote. In just one day we got about 400 students registered,” Iacovelli said. “It is important to us not only to get students registered, but also to talk about the status of the state legislatures and the importance of voting in this upcoming election.”
Iacovelli said students are most concerned with abortion rights, legalizing recreational cannabis, criminal justice reform and voting rights.
“We try to get as many democratic campaigns, candidates and elected officials as possible to come and speak at our meetings,” Iacovelli said. “I’ve noticed that the more engaged we get students, the more likely they are able to speak about the candidates and voting in the election to their friends and peers, which ultimately spreads the word.”
Pat Christmas, policy director for the voter advocacy group, the Committee of Seventy, said the organization also is focusing on getting younger voters to the polls.
“We have worked with teachers and community leaders to make sure that young individuals have access to information on voting and are educated on the topic,” Christmas told the Capital-Star. “It matters a great deal to have younger people casting ballots, because they are the future of elections and our democracy. They may even be inspired to run as candidates one day.”
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