A new, non-partisan initiative guided by volunteers has launched in Franklin County to spread awareness of voter information and resources ahead of the General Election on November 8.
A new, non-partisan initiative guided by volunteers has launched in Franklin County to spread awareness of voter information and resources ahead of the General Election on November 8. The initiative, Franklin Votes, aims to increase voter turnout in communities across the county.
In 2021, only 31% of registered voters in Franklin County cast a ballot for the general election (a non-presidential year). That means of the 98,134 registered voters in 2021, less than 1 in 3 people voted.
“America’s two-party system can feel divisive at times, which can end up turning away potential voters,” said Amy Weibley, one of the organizers behind Franklin Votes. “They may want to avoid political arguments with friends and family, or perhaps they feel like they don’t know enough about politics to vote, or they might feel like their vote doesn’t matter.
“I know, because I used to be one of those people. I didn’t register to vote until a few years ago. What I learned is that my voice does matter, especially in local elections. The decisions politicians make have a direct impact on my life - on all of our lives. Not voting and being uninformed doesn’t take away that impact.”
Franklin Votes hopes to build up the confidence of eligible voters by connecting them with non-partisan resources, so all citizens utilize their right to vote.
Franklin Votes’ comprehensive and easy-to-use website provides election and voter information: franklinvotes.org. The website includes resources to register to vote, check your registration status, apply to vote by mail, find your polling place, sign up for volunteer opportunities, explore election information, and more.
“The Franklin Votes website will help anyone create their plan to vote on November 8 - from citizens who need to register to vote and will be voting for the first time ever, all the way to super voters,” said Weibley.
Voter Registration and More
There are still about 20% of adults in Franklin County who may be eligible to vote but are not registered, based on Franklin County’s population reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. That leaves an estimated 23,771 adults in Franklin County who could be using their right to vote, if only they would take the first step and register.
National Voter Registration Day on September 20 will kick-off a series of community events that Franklin Votes will participate in. Volunteers at these events will share voter registration and other non-partisan educational materials related to the election and voting.
Citizens must register to vote by October 24 if they plan to vote in this year’s General Election on November 8.
As part of National Voter Registration Day, all of the Franklin County libraries will have information about voting and voter registration forms. A library computer will be dedicated to online voter registration for anyone to use.
Franklin Votes booths will be set up at Mercersburg Townfest on September 24, Waynesboro Market Day on October 1, Pride Franklin County Festival on October 9, and Applefest on October 15. Guests attending these community events can register to vote on-site or have their election and voting questions answered.
Additionally, Franklin Votes is hosting two of their own events. A Voter Information Open House will be held on Thursday, October 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at GearHouse Brewing, 253 Grant. St., Chambersburg. Drop by for a bite to eat and connect with voter information.
Fly Into Action
The inaugural Fly Into Action Kite Festival will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Nitterhouse Soccer Complex, 375 W. Washington St., Chambersburg. Make memories with family and friends while celebrating our right to vote.
“Different cultures use kite festivals to connect citizens with the democratic process,” said Jenny Sefcheck, one of the Franklin Votes organizers. “What better way to bring our own community together ahead of Election Day than to celebrate, create, and educate through the joy of kites - especially since our county’s namesake is infamous for flying a kite!”
The Kite Festival is free and open to the public, and will be held rain or shine. Festivities will include music, food, family crafts, kids' activities, community vendors, giveaways, kite demonstrations, and more high-flying fun. The first 500 attendees will receive free kites.
“We hope that over time the Fly Into Action Kite Festival will be an event that Franklin County residents look forward to each year before the upcoming election,” said Sefcheck.
Community organizations, food trucks, and businesses are invited to sign up as a vendor for the event.
Volunteers are needed to help at Franklin Votes events and with other voter-related activities. Learn more and sign up at franklinvotes.org/volunteer.
A virtual volunteer training session hosted by PA Votes and the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania will be held on Thursday, September 29 at 12pm. It is free and open to individuals and organizations that want to assist with voter registration - either within their own organizations or through Franklin Votes. Register to receive the virtual meeting link at franklinvotes.org/events.
Knowledge is Power
Voter education and awareness goes beyond providing voter information in-person and online. According to its organizers, Franklin Votes ultimately aims to empower citizens to use their voice by voting. They are doing so by keeping partisan politics out of Franklin Votes.
Step-by-step guides, non-partisan election resources, a pledge to vote tool, and more information available on the website and at events can help voters make informed decisions come November 8.
“By taking just a little more effort to look up who is on my ballot, check out what issues are in the news right now, and decide how I personally feel about them has given me a power - a freedom - I never experienced before,” said Weibley. “When I vote, I feel like I have a voice and a say in what’s going on. Even if sometimes that voice feels like a whisper, it’s better than staying silent.”
Franklin Votes is a non-partisan initiative of the Franklin County Coalition for Progress, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, made possible thanks to a grant from the FirstEnergy Foundation. Learn more and connect to resources at franklinvotes.org.