HARRISBURG– The Pennsylvania departments of State and Education launched today the sixth annual Governor’s Civic Engagement Award (GCEA) Program, which promotes student-led voter registration efforts in high schools across the commonwealth.
“The GCEA program encourages civic education and engagement among our young people, who are the future of our democracy, and initiates them in the lifelong habit of voting,” Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman said. “I urge educators to enroll their schools in this innovative, nonpartisan program as soon as possible so their students can get the voter registration toolkit early and begin planning their voter registration efforts.”
Schools that register at least 85% of their eligible students earn a Gold Level Award, while schools that register 65% or more of their eligible students earn a Silver Level Award.
To be eligible to register to vote, a student must be:
- a U.S. citizen at least 30 days before the next election;
- a resident of Pennsylvania and their local election district at least 30 days before the next election; and
- 18 years old by date of the next primary, special, municipal or general election.
Students can earn individual GCEA awards for participating in voter registration efforts at their school and also for serving as a poll worker during the Nov. 8 general election. To be a poll worker, students must be at least 17 years old and have the permission of their school principal and parent or guardian.
While the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 24, schools participating in the GCEA will be registering students throughout the school year.
The deadline for schools to apply for awards for the 2022-23 school year is May 12, 2023. A recognition event will be held to honor the winning schools and students.
“One of the best ways we can preserve, promote and protect democracy is by encouraging Pennsylvanians to become civically engaged,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “It is critical that learners and young people across the commonwealth exercise their right to make their voice heard, register to vote, and remain active in their communities.”
In 2020, the Department of State also launched the Pennsylvania Campus Voting Challenge, a nonpartisan competition among higher education institutions in the commonwealth to increase student voter participation and engagement.
For more information on voter registration, call the Department of State’s year-round election hotline at 1-877-868-3772 or visit vote.pa.gov.