As the City Girls once said, “Boy, Philly talks English, Spanish and Vietnamese!”
Ok, this might not be an exact rephrasing of the iconic line from the City Girls, but it is an accurate assessment of Philadelphia! Philadelphia is a diverse melting pot with over 350,000 people speaking a first language that is not English. And of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, our Philadelphia is the only one where non-Hispanic whites are not a majority. This diversity is even more pronounced among Philly’s student body where 85% of public school students identify as POC.
This is why we need to have voter registration in Philadelphia's schools: to represent our diversity in the city, state, and federal governments. Young people deserve to have their voices heard. We deserve to have a say in how we are governed. And we deserve to have the unique perspective of growing up in Philadelphia be represented in Harrisburg and D.C.
Beyond the need of the greater Philadelphia community to have these young people vote, each Philadelphia student will have their own distinct political beliefs and ideals distinct from the person sitting next to them in class, and each one deserves to have their voice heard. Yet, in many instances, young Philadelphians are not properly educated on the [cumbersome and constantly changing] requirements to vote.
Bringing voter registration to schools would close this educational gap and increase civic engagement among Philadelphia students. It would help them see themselves as individual voters, not just some media voting bloc. It would make them lifelong voters.
So let’s do it! Let’s represent our amazingly diverse city and the people who make her amazing. Let's bring voter registration to Philadelphia Public Schools.
Liam Hoare is a gay Miami native currently studying Political Science at UPenn with an interest in race and ethnic politics.