During New Student Orientation at the University of Pennsylvania, the Office of Government and Community Affairs, in conjunction with Philadelphia City Commissioners Office, offered a hands-on, interactive experience as part of their voter registration and education activities, Aug. 22-23.
OGCA set up a real voting booth in Houston Hall, allowing students an opportunity to step into the action.
“It’s a way to demystify what happens in the voting booth,” says Dawn Maglicco Deitch, OGCA’s executive director.
It also allows for people to ask questions ahead of time and alleviates apprehension, giving first-time voters a “sneak peek” of what exactly they’ll be seeing on election day.
“This is one of the best ways of serving new students and first-time voters,” says Deitch. “We make it very easy and accessible to register right away.”
The voter booth is owned and operated by the Philadelphia City Commissioners Office and was introduced at NSO several years ago. It has since become a popular attraction for both domestic as well as international students and their families.
“It’s something that they’re not usually going to see: it’s the tool of democracy, and they get to push the buttons in an American voting booth,” Deitch says.
Members of Penn Leads the Vote, a student-run, non-partisan voter-engagement organization on campus, encouraged OGCA to hold the activity as part of NSO.
“It is important to understand that your vote is your voice,” Deitch says. “Voting is the way to express yourself. All of the other ways of expressing yourself are meaningful, like Twitter, but voting is the one that counts. Literally, they count the votes.”
This year’s deadline for voter registration in Pennsylvania for the November election is Oct. 10.