With deadline looming, Philly pols urge city residents to register to vote in Nov. 2 election

The deadline is Oct. 18. And ‘there is no such thing as the off-year’ officials said during an event at Philadelphia City Hall

By: - October 12, 2021 10:44 am

(Philadelphia photo)

By Brian Saunders

Just a day after the 150th anniversary of Black activist Octavius V. Catto’s death in Philadelphia, City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas led a #YourVoteIsYourVoice rally in the City Hall courtyard Monday afternoon.

“Just yesterday, we honored the occasion of Octavius Catto, who died right here in the city of Philadelphia registering people to vote,” City Commissioner Lisa Deely said.

“So it is even more fitting that we have this press conference today, and we remind Philadelphians that it’s their voice, it’s their vote, and it makes a difference. Every vote matters.”

With just a week until the Oct. 18 voter registration deadline and three weeks before the November election cycle, Thomas brought out several Philadelphia councilmembers urging citizens to register and vote.

“There has been a concerted effort here in the city of Philadelphia to push and encourage as many people in the city to get registered to vote and to participate in this year’s election, Nov. 2,” Thomas said.

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“With today being seven days from the last day to get registered to vote, we thought it was important for all of us to gather here today. We know that this year is considered an off-year, as it relates to an election and election season and election cycles. Well for myself and for the rest of the people that stand on the stage right now, there is no such thing as the off-year.”

Every six months elections are held. This November, Philadelphia citizens who are eligible and have registered to vote will vote on the district attorney, judges and the city controller.

“Let me give y’all a little news flash,” City Commissioner Omar Sabir said. “We have approximately 90% of Philadelphians registered. However, we encourage you to exercise that right to vote. Just 150 years ago yesterday, Octavius Catto was assassinated. Why? Very simple, because he was walking around trying to organize African Americans to vote. And today in 2021, people take that right to vote for granted.”

Your statewide voters guide for the 2021 general election in Pennsylvania

Many of the speakers at the rally talked about the common misconception among citizens who believe their votes don’t matter and how that leads to voter apathy. They also discussed how some voters skip elections that don’t have national prominence.

Thomas said he spends time with young voters urging them to register because he’s seen elections lost by the swing of just 30 votes.

Similar to last November’s election, registered voters can request a mail-in ballot and vote early and from home.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta stood at the podium and waved his mail-in-ballot in the air. “It’s important for us to not take this right to vote for granted,” he said.

“There is no more important election than the one we’re about to have next month. And then the one that we’re going to have six months after that. And then the one that we’re going to have six months after that. This (mail-in ballot) is your ticket to be involved in our democracy. Right here, the right to vote is the way that you get to engage in this experiment and democracy. This experiment fails and it is diminished when we don’t exercise our most important right.”

You can go to City Hall, Room 140 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and register in person. Also, to register or update your current registration go to: www.philadelphiavotes.com.

Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

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