/New changes made to voting process in response to COVID-19

New changes made to voting process in response to COVID-19

By Chloe Miller

Students in Lisa Poliski’s AP U.S. Government and Politics classes had planned on holding a voter registration drive for their peers of voting age. During the 2016 election, 18-29 year olds had the lowest voter turnout at only 46.1 percent, meaning that less than half of young adults of age voted in the major presidential election. The classes aimed to target this age group and help increase the voter participation of young adults. Originally planned to occur in the last week of March, the voter drive had to be canceled after schools closed on March 13. Although you may not be able to register to vote in school, you can still do it easily from home. 

In order to vote, students must be a Pennsylvania resident and American citizen for 30 days prior to the next election, and 18 by the day of the election one is planning to vote in. Students can register either online at PA Voter Services, or they can register by mail through the application that is mailed out to all non-registered eligible voters. To verify one’s identity, he/she must provide a driver’s license or Social Security number. 

Currently, Joe Biden is the only Democratic nominee for the primary, and President Donald Trump is the single Republican nominee. While the primaries seem locked in, Governor Tom Wolf has pushed Pennsylvania’s primary election back to June 2. Wolf’s decision came in hopes that more people would register to vote by mail. Wolf also intended to give election officials the proper time to prepare during this unprecedented time. Additionally, there are proposals in Congress to allow early voting, and potentially registration on Election Day, though these proposals have yet to be passed. 

As for voting in the primary elections on June 2, one must register to vote by May 18 to be eligible. If using a mail in or absentee ballot, the deadline to sign up is May 26, and the ballot itself is due at 8 p.m. on Election Day. Polls will be open on June 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, voters with absentee ballots must observe the June 2 deadline to send in their vote. 

While students may be unable to register to vote at school, the process at home has been simplified and extended to ensure that U.S. citizens are given equal opportunities to exercise their right to vote.