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Department of State Launches 2018-19 Governor’s Civic Engagement Award Program to Promote Student-Led Voter Registration

Harrisburg, PA -- Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres launched today, during National Voter Registration Month, the second year of the Governor’s Civic Engagement Award (GCEA) Program for Pennsylvania high schools. The program promotes student-led voter ​registration efforts at high schools and recognizes schools that register at least 65 percent of their eligible students.

“We hope to engage more schools and surpass last year’s participation and voter registration numbers,” Torres said. “This program is a great way to teach young people civics and get them involved as active citizens in our democratic process.”

During the program’s inaugural year, 2,955 eligible students from 16 high schools across the commonwealth registered to vote. Eligible students are 18 years of age or will turn 18 on or before the date of the next primary, special, municipal or general election.

Schools that register at least 65 percent of their eligible students earn a Silver Level Award, while schools that register 85 percent or more of their eligible students earn a Gold Level Award.

New this year will be individual awards to outstanding students 17 years of age or older who both actively engage in efforts to register their fellow students to vote and serve as poll workers during the November election.  Individual award recipients will be invited to participate in a program and ceremony in Harrisburg to recognize their achievement.

The GCEA program, initiated at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, is a cooperative effort by the Departments of State and Education, in collaboration with Inspire U.S., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to transform young leaders’ inspiration into action. The program offers resources and guidance for student leaders as they educate their peers regarding the electoral process and the importance of civic engagement.

“Registering to vote is a fundamental step for students to become active participants in the democratic process,” said Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. “We encourage all eligible students to register to vote through this initiative, and we applaud the students who are teaching their peers about their civic responsibilities and becoming informed citizens.”

High schools can sign up directly with Inspire U.S., which supports student leaders as they coordinate peer-to-peer voter registration drives and efforts to get out the vote. Inspire U.S. also assists with materials and data management, and in organizing school celebrations and recognition events.

More information is available on the Department of State website. Printer-friendly Pennsylvania voter education materials can be found at

September Is National Voter Registration Month

The nation’s Secretaries of State established September as National Voter Registration Month in 2002 as a non-partisan means of encouraging voter participation and increasing awareness of state requirements and deadlines for voting. National Voter Registration Day, a national holiday celebrating our democracy, will be held on Sept. 25, 2018.

Individuals wishing to register to vote in Pennsylvania for the November 6 election must be:

  • A citizen of the United States for at least one month before the election;
  • A citizen of the United States for at least one month before the election;
  • A resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which the individual desires to register and vote for at least 30 days before the election and
  • At least 18 years of age on or before the date of the election.

The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania for the November 6 election is October 9, 2018.

The website, available in English and Spanish, offers a polling place locator and county boards of election contact information. It also includes tips for first-time voters and members of the military. Voters also can familiarize themselves with the voting system they will use in their home county on Election Day.

Also at, voters will find a web-based voter education toolkit, which includes a Voter Guide (PDF) and the “Top 5 Things Every Voter Should Know About Pennsylvania Elections” (PDF).

For more information on voter registration, call the Department of State’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772) or visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Ellen Lyon, 717-772-2146

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