The fourth annual Governor’s Civic Engagement Award Program for high schools is currently underway. The program prompts student-led voter registration efforts and recognizes schools that register at least 65 percent of their eligible students.
“The Pennsylvania Department of State is proud to be part of this innovative, nonpartisan program, which teaches young people civics and cultivates the lifelong habit of voting. By inspiring their peers to register, vote and serve as poll workers, they become invested in our democracy,” said Secretary Kathy Boockvar. “A presidential election year presents an ideal teaching opportunity. I urge educators to enroll their schools in the program as soon as possible so they can get the voter registration toolkit early and receive valuable updates throughout the school year.”
Schools that register at least 85 percent of their eligible students earn a Gold Level Award, while schools that register 65 percent 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 and 18 years of age, or turn 18 on or before the date of the next primary, special, municipal or general election.
Participating schools will have two voter registration opportunities this school year – for the November general election and the 2021 primary next May. The deadline to apply for a GCEA for the 2020-21 school year is May 5. Recognition events will be held in May to honor the winning schools and students.
The GCEA program is a cooperative effort by the Departments of State and Education. It offers student leaders resources on voter registration and educates them about the electoral process and the importance of civic engagement.
“Voting is the foundation of the democratic process and allows our citizens to express their viewpoints,” said Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. “As students learn about the Voting Rights Act and the struggles to protect and uphold these rights, we encourage them to take the next step and register to vote through this important initiative.”
In the GCEA program’s inaugural year, 16 high schools won awards. The second year, 23 schools won awards and eight student poll workers earned individual recognition. Last year, 43 schools won awards and 13 student poll workers were recognized.
The Department of State recently hosted a kickoff webinar for the 2020-21 GCEA program. New this year is a Student Showcase on the department’s website, where participating schools can share creative approaches they have employed to encourage voter registration and recruit new poll workers.