300 Philadelphia Students March to City Hall for Vote Early Day
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300 Philadelphia Students March to City Hall for Vote Early Day

PHILADELPHIA – October 26, 2023 – Over 300 Philadelphia students converged on City Hall on Thursday afternoon for “Give Us a Ballot,” a youth-led march and rally to empower new voters to cast their ballots at City Hall. 

“There are thousands of young people in Philadelphia who are excited to vote for the first time this November,” said Angelique Hinton, Executive Director of PA Youth Vote, which led the planning of the march. “This youth-led effort is about not just getting 18-year-olds to vote, but inspiring others to be civically engaged.” 

Prior to Thursday, staff from the School District of Philadelphia and classroom teachers ensured students were registered to vote and had completed a mail-in ballot application. To kick off the event, students from Parkway Northwest Peace and Social Justice Academy, Central, Martin Luther King, Roxborough High School, Constitution, Palumbo, Penn Treaty, and Benjamin Rush marched from Love Park to City Hall. They were met by staff from the City Commissioners Office, where they completed and turned in their mail-in ballots. 

Jeannette Bavwidinsi is the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement and helped coordinate the program. “Having 18-year-old students come to City Hall to complete their mail-in ballot is a great way to get them thinking about how they have the power to exercise this fundamental American right for the rest of their lives,” she said.

In remarks outside City Hall, Kamryn Davis (Lead Organizer at PA Youth Vote) stated that “Today is a reminder to the adults and elected officials of Philadelphia that young Philadelphians care about the state of our city and country. When you empower us to connect the issues we care about to the power of our vote and then give us a ballot, we will use our vote in every election to make an impact.” 

“Give Us a Ballot” was part of a national celebration for Vote Early Day. In total, over 1,600 partners from 48 states planned events to encourage voters to cast their ballots early. 

Philadelphia’s event was inspired by a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1957 speech titled, "Give Us the Ballot." Dr. King stated, "Give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill." The event also takes inspiration from the documentary "Give Us a Ballot," highlighting effective strategies employed by Philadelphia-based organizations to empower young adults to make their voices heard through voting.

The event is sponsored by PA Youth Vote, Committee of Seventy, the School District of Philadelphia, the City Commissioners Office, the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, and PA Alliance.

“The municipal and judicial elections in 2023 will have a major impact on students' lives across the commonwealth,” said Lauren Cristella, President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy. “Whether it is voting early, serving as poll workers, or getting others in their family to participate, our young people have extraordinary power in Philadelphia.”

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About PA Youth Vote

PA Youth Vote is a nonpartisan collaboration of youth, educators, and organizations working to elevate youth voices, improve public school civics education, and empower youth as civic actors. Together, we are building youth political power and changing the policy and culture around youth voting statewide.

About the Committee of Seventy 

The Committee of Seventy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has promoted, supported and facilitated government ethics and election integrity for more than a century. We believe that elections should be more free, more fair, more safe and more secure. We want every eligible voter to vote, to be informed when they vote, and to vote with confidence. For more information, find us at: www.seventy.org/  Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn

Vote Early Day is a nonpartisan movement of media companies, businesses, nonprofits, election administrators, and creatives working to ensure all Americans have the tools to vote early. Learn more at voteearlyday.org.