Centre County officials, students and candidate for State House District 82 Paul Takac, held an event Sunday morning outside of the HUB-Robeson Center to encourage students to register to vote before Monday's deadline.
“We're here to recognize and to remind folks that we have less than a day left to register to vote here in Centre County,” Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said.
Pipe was one of two Centre County Commissioners to speak along with Commissioner Mark Higgins.
“You need to register to vote immediately, and you need to vote on November 8," Higgins said, "or very soon, you or people very much like you may not be able to do so."
Higgins spoke on the Pennsylvania Senate Bill 106.
“There is now a constitutional amendment for the state of Pennsylvania that will prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from voting,” Higgins said. “For those of you who are freshman or sophomores who aren’t registered yet, tomorrow will be your last chance potentially to even be able to vote in this state.”
Students and others have fought for voting on campus and have been able to vote since 1971.
“Remarking on some history, I was doing a little bit of research. In 1971, the 26th Amendment was ratified [which] lowered the voting age from 21 to 18,” Pipe said. “And at the time, there was a tremendous amount of legal uncertainty about whether 18 year olds in Centre County would be able to vote.”
For senior Bella Briseño, it's important that students understand the power they have at the polls.
“We hear the same line of thought among young people more broadly, that their vote doesn’t make a difference despite 18 to 29 year olds making up the largest voting bloc in the United States,” Briseño (senior-environmental resource management and political science) said.
Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania House District 82, Paul Takac spoke on the importance of voting.
“An inherent element of our democracy is that voting is a sacred right,” Takac said. “So many have sacrificed over the course of our nation's history to ensure that we have a political system where everyone has the opportunity to participate.”
For Takac, the struggle for the right to vote can be seen all over the world.
“We’ve also heard it said that voting is a privilege. We can see the evidence of that by simply looking across the world and recognizing the people in movements desperately fighting for their voices to be heard," Takac said, "like the heroic resistance of the people in Ukraine, or the brave women in Iran fighting for their freedoms."
The fight for voting rights can be seen in American history, too, according to Higgins.
“My grandmother was born in 1897, now that's a significant date because she could not vote, in 1915, 1916 and 1917 as World War I was starting as she was both under the age of 21 and female,” Higgins said.
For Briseño, it's not just about the past but the future.
“And our collective sustainable future.. relies on this power — the power of the younger generations electing people to positions of power on all levels to enact a more sustainable future,” Briseño said.
Takac said if students don’t vote now, students may not be able to in the future.
“When I tell the Penn State student community that it's their responsibility to register and exercise their right to vote, it's because if they don’t, future students could arrive on this campus and have no voice in our community, in our commonwealth or even in our country while they are here,” Takac said.
The event ended with a final call to register to vote.
“I urge everyone in this community to exercise their right, their privilege and their responsibility by registering to vote by the end of day tomorrow which you can do right here at the hub, and cast a ballot on November 8,” Takac said. “Our democracy will be stronger if you do.”