Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues
By Diana Dakey, PennFuture Board Member
Voting is one of the most important rights and obligations you have as a citizen. The leaders you elect make decisions that affect you, your family, as well as your community, country, and world. You must register to vote one month prior to the general Election Day. The last day to register to vote is TODAY: October 9. If you miss this deadline, your registration will not take effect until the next election.
U.S. Citizens, at least 18 years old, can vote. You must be a Pennsylvania resident for 30 days prior to the November 6th election. You will register for the address where you will live for the 30 days prior to the election. If you have recently moved, you should update you voter registration.
All of the information you need can be found at www.VotesPA.com, the official Pennsylvania website. Here, you can register to vote, confirm your registration, update your address, and locate your polling place. If you prefer to register in person or on a paper form, applications may be completed at your County Department of Elections, whose address can be found at VotesPA.com.
Be an Informed Voter. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It needs your input, in the form of your vote. Voting is your chance to choose the decision makers who will advocate for sound policies, beneficial to all of society and consistent with your values.
Voting will allow you to influence what happens in the next few years. This election will elect the Pennsylvania Governor to a four-year term, one of PA’s two U.S. Senators to a four-year term, all of the U.S. House of Representatives to two-year terms, half (even-numbered districts) of the PA Legislature’s Senate seats to four-year terms, and all of the PA Legislature’s House seats to two-year terms.
If you are not sure who is running in your districts, you can produce a sample ballot at Vote411.org. Sample ballots are also posted to your County Department of Elections web site.
Where do the candidate stand on the issues? Environmental protection is the greatest legacy we can leave our children. Rather than voting out of habit for, say, incumbents or a particular party, take the time to actually learn where the candidates stand on the issues. Do your own research, and consume media with skepticism and objectivity. Pay attention to statewide races and vote carefully. With Washington in disarray, what happens at the state level has great importance.
At www.marcellusmoney.org you can see which gas companies are funding your politicians and candidates.
Can we get good government back? Both our state and federal governments have been mired in partisan politics rather than working for the people. In order for us to address environmental issues, we need a government that works for the people. On Vote 411.org you can view candidate’s priorities and positions on key democracy reforms such as redistricting reform and voting.
Attend a candidate forum in your area. At www.Vote411.org, after you enter your address, you can see an event listing. Check back frequently, as new events are posted frequently.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th.
New voters: The first time you vote, you must bring a photo or non-photo ID. Learn about acceptable forms of ID at www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA.
In Pennsylvania, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You need to be in line before closing time.
If you know you will be away from home on Election Day, you may be able to vote by absentee ballot. An absentee ballot application can be found on your county Department of Elections website as well as the PA Department of State website. Pay careful attention to the deadlines to both apply for an absentee ballot (October 30) and ensure it is received back by you County Department of Elections (November 2).