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Department of State Launches 2019-20 Governor’s Civic Engagement Award Program to Promote Student-Led Voter Registration

Harrisburg, PA – Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar launched today, during National Voter Registration Month, the third 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.

"This innovative, nonpartisan program teaches young people civics and encourages them to get involved as active citizens and voters in our democratic process," Secretary Boockvar said. "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."

Information on the four regional recognition events for award winners — in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre — will be posted soon on the GCEA web page so schools can plan ahead.

The GCEA program is growing in popularity and success. In its first year, 2,955 eligible students registered to vote, and 16 schools won awards. Last year, 3,109 eligible students registered to vote, 23 schools won awards and eight outstanding students earned individual recognition for working to register their peers and also serving as poll workers.  

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, students must be 18 years of age, or turn 18 on or before the date of the next primary, special, municipal or general election.

The program, initiated at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, 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 a fundamental right in our country and registering to vote is the first step students need to take to participate in this democratic process," said Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. "We encourage all students 18 and older to register through this initiative so that their votes can be counted, and we applaud our students who are helping their peers learn about and act on their civic responsibilities."

September Is National Voter Registration Month

In 2002, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) established National Voter Registration Month in September as a non-partisan means of encouraging voter participation and increasing awareness of state voting requirements and deadlines.

National Voter Registration Day, launched in 2012 by a coalition of nonprofit and voter advocacy organizations and supported by NASS, will be held this year on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Pennsylvanians wishing to register to vote must be:

  • 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.

October 7 is Pennsylvania's deadline to register to vote in the November 5 election.

The Department of State's website offers:

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 Printer-friendly Pennsylvania voter education materials can be found at


MEDIA CONTACT:  Wanda Murren, 717-783-1621


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