A crisp, autumn breeze catches the piles of fallen leaves, sending them tumbling through the air. As they soar through the quad, they intermix with the energetic bellowing of campaigners, imploring their fellow students to stop by the local polling place. The date is November 6, 2012, and campus is bustling with the anticipation of Election Day.
College-aged students are notorious for their political fervor. However, less than 50% of America’s 46 million youth (ages 18 to 29) voted in the 2012 Presidential Election (The Youth Vote in 2012, CIRCLE). While young voters are considered a highly influential demographic, more than half of its members have consistently been silent on Election Day. Lack of participation is especially concerning for young Catholics, who have both a civic and Baptismal duty to vote for a candidate that best represents the teachings of the Church, “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, USCCB).
The next Pennsylvania Municipal Election will take place November 5, 2013. In order to vote in a local, state, or national election, a voter must be registered at least 30 days prior to the election. Registration is valid until a name, address, or political affiliation change occurs. Registering now guarantees a student’s ability to be an active witness of the Faith in November, before schoolwork consumes their time this fall.
In order to be eligible to vote, one must:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be a United States citizen for at least one month prior to the election.
- Be a resident of the registered Pennsylvania election district for at least 30 days prior to the election.
If you meet these requirements, follow these steps to complete your voter registration:
- Decide whether you want to use your current college or prior home address to register. Remember that you may only vote in the district of the address listed on your registration.
- Decide whether you want to complete a Voter Registration Application in person, by mail, or at a government agency.
- Register in-person by completing an application at your County Voter Registration Office.
- Register by mail by downloading and printing the Voter Registration Application. To request a paper application be mailed to you, email ST-VOTERREG@pa.gov with your full name and mailing address. Complete, sign, and mail the application to your County Voter Registration Office.
- Register at a government agency like the PennDOT photo license center when obtaining or updating your driver’s license.
Registration is a crucial step in the voting process, but it is only the beginning. Do not forget to become informed about the candidates and current issues. Most importantly, do not forget to cast your ballot! Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson, “We in America do not have a government by the majority. We have a government by the majority who participate.”
Find more information on voting in Pennsylvania and voting as Catholics here.