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A citizen's first duty is to vote

The general election is on Tuesday, November 8, when we will be choosing Pennsylvania’s next governor, senator, representatives, and Philadelphia City Councilmembers. Among the issues facing the U.S., Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia are labor protection, the minimum wage, racial justice, criminal justice reform, climate change, gun violence, LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, health care, and reproductive rights. This election is crucial; that democracy itself is at stake is not hyperbole.

Here is everything you need to know about how to vote.

If you are not familiar with the candidates, check out The Philadelphia Citizen’s guide to who’s on the ballot and our rundown of who is running for vacated City Council seats in a special election.


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Engaged citizens strengthen democracy

One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia—whether you want to contact your City Councilmember to voice your concerns about the challenges facing your community, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

Stand up for marginalized communities

Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

Support local businesses

Guest Commentary: Voting Today Matters Tomorrow

Even one vote in one election matters. Even better, says a Harrisburg leader, is making voting a habit from a young age

Guest Commentary: Voting Today Matters Tomorrow

Even one vote in one election matters. Even better, says a Harrisburg leader, is making voting a habit from a young age

One of the best parts of my job is meeting with young people in my district. They have energy, curiosity and ask great questions. I’m always working to create better opportunities for these young people to grow up and, one day, lead our communities.

For young people, it is easy to assume that our democracy is robust, that it can prevail over any attack, and to be skeptical that one vote can really make a difference. But what we’ve seen over the past few years is that our democracy is fragile, and not only can one vote make a difference, but it can have long-lasting effects on our city, state and country.

I was proud to announce recently that a local organization, the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center Inc., which offers youth development through community service and civic education programs, was awarded a grant from the state Department of Education to partner with the School District of Philadelphia’s Social Studies Curriculum Team in crafting a civics education program, “We, The People Civic Education,” to be offered to 10 schools in West and Southwest Philadelphia. One topic the curriculum will tackle: the importance of voting.

I’m hopeful that “We, The People” will inspire our next generation of voters to register and participate in every election. But I also know that the greatest influence comes from moms and dads, aunties and uncles, neighbors, and family friends. These people set the example about how important voting really is.

And voting is easier than ever. The days of being forced to wait in long lines to cast your ballot in person are over. You can vote by mail, put your ballot in a drop box, or you can still go to the polls in person.

One thing is certain: Voting has never been more important. This year, Pennsylvanians will vote for a U.S. senator, governor, members of Congress, state representative, and some state senators.

Over the next few years, there will be a lot of important decisions made in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. Voters have to trust the people they elect to represent their interests. For instance, Pennsylvania’s new governor will appoint new cabinet secretaries to run state agencies like the Education Department, the Health Department and the Department of State — that last person will run our future elections. Our state legislature will decide how much to spend on local schools, what strategies to fund in violence prevention, and if Pennsylvania will finally boost the minimum wage.

The people we send to Washington, D.C. will decide on women’s reproductive rights and on the future of social programs like Medicare and Social Security.

All of these decisions can have serious and long-term consequences on the health of our communities — financially, environmentally and otherwise. That is why it is so important to elect officials who consider your perspectives, needs and experience when they make important decisions that impact our whole community.

Free and fair elections have never been more important. Our nation has a regrettable history of intentionally silencing African Americans’ voices using poll taxes and literacy tests. We can’t afford to take a step back by erecting any barrier to the ballot box. Our country’s success depends on everyone participating.

I’m proud that our city is the birthplace of American democracy, and I’m grateful that I get to engage with people here in Philadelphia and around the state who care deeply about our commonwealth’s future. While our country approaches its 250th anniversary, there is something we each can do to reinvest in our democracy, and that is participate! Vote in every election. Attend public meetings. Engage with your elected officials.

Don’t forget, your next chance to reinvest is November 8.

Rep. Joanna McClinton, the Pennsylvania State House Majority Leader, represents the 191st District covering parts of Philadelphia and Delaware County.

The Citizen welcomes guest commentary from community members who stipulate to the best of their ability that it is fact-based and non-defamatory.


State Representative Joanna McClinton speaks with the press May 4, 2022. Photo via Governor Tom Wolf from Harrisburg, PA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

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