Photo Courtesy of Brooke Proctor
In 1979, the Supreme Court granted college students the right to vote in their college towns with the Symm v. U.S. decision. In response, then-professor of history Van Gosse, along with other faculty, staff, and students founded F&M Votes. Since 2004, F&M Votes has been devoted to uplifting students’ voices by making voter registration accessible and encouraging active political participation. As a college student in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you have the unique opportunity to not only foster a habit of civic engagement, but also have a direct impact on critical state and federal elections.
United States citizens between the ages of 18-24 have the lowest voter turnout of any age group, which is why we try to foster an interest in political engagement in our peers. If you’ve ever wondered why your representatives don’t spend time and resources on issues important to you and your generation, consider that it might be because the younger generations don’t vote. However, as a current 18- to 24-year-old, you have the opportunity to reverse this trend by utilizing your right to vote. Furthermore, as a resident of Lancaster, your vote holds a lot of weight. Many of you may hail from states with predetermined electoral results, such as New York or Texas. During your years at F&M, you have the unique opportunity to affect the results of elections on local, state, and national levels because Pennsylvania is considered a “swing state” or a “battleground state.” This means that the state does not tend to align with one party, it swings back-and-forth in each election, and it is closely watched during all major state and federal elections. Take advantage of your powerful voice while you are here, and vote for the future you want to live in.
Gubernatorial, presidential, and other federal elections are exciting, but local elections have a far greater potential to impact your life. Climate policy, social services, public school funding/policy, and many other important issues are often handled at the local level. F&M Votes wants to encourage everyone to devote the same energy to our upcoming local elections that you will likely devote to the Presidential primary and general elections next year.
Today, November 7, we have municipal elections for PA Supreme Court, PA Commonwealth Court, PA Superior Court, County Commissioner, Lancaster City Council, and School District of Lancaster officials. The candidates that win these seats will have the force to make decisions about the commonwealth, county, and city in which you currently reside – decisions that will directly affect you as an F&M student for these 4 years.
You can visit vote.pa.gov for important information on upcoming elections, and can even find sample ballots on websites such as ballotpedia.org. We urge you to devote time to learning about these upcoming elections, check your voter registration status at pavoterservices.pa.gov, and make a plan for the election today, and in the future. Our F&M polling location is at the Lancaster Theological Seminary, on the corner of West James Street and College Avenue, and the polls will be open from 7:00am-8:00pm. Bring your student ID, your civic engagement, and grab an “I Voted” sticker on the way out. For those of you that have not registered in Lancaster, make sure you keep track of your mail-in and absentee ballots, and consider registering with us in the Spring! We hope to see you today, happy voting!
F&M Votes Coalition
Sophomore Brooke Proctor is a Contributing Writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.