Penn State encourages eligible students to be engaged citizens by participating in elections and understanding the issues that affect them today and in the future.
What is it important to vote in a primary election?
Each state holds a Primary Election between March and September to nominate candidates for the subsequent November General Election. Primary Elections allow voters to select the major party nominees for each public office for which there is an election in November.
Voting in the Primary Election gives you the opportunity to help determine who will be on the General Election ballot in November. Some areas are “non-competitive,” meaning that one party usually does much better than the other party in the General Election. In these areas, the Primary Elections are likely to determine the eventual winner of the General Election. For example, a congressional district might contain thousands more Republican voters than Democratic voters. The Republican would likely win the November General Election, so the Republican Primary Election would be a key determinant of who will next hold that elected office.
Each Primary Election helps determine the next in line to manage our governmental institutions and should be of great interest to all citizens.
Why is it important to vote in a non-presidential election?
Elections that take place on odd-numbered years (often called "off-year elections") rarely feature any election to a federal office. Instead, these elections typically decide county and municipal positions.
The outcomes of these elections can have a huge impact on the day-to-day workings of your community. As a Penn State student, you have the option to register to vote using your local address where you live for most of the year and where many issues have an impact on you while you live here.
Municipal and county elections decide positions, such as County Commissioners, District Judge, Borough Council members, and more. These are the officials that make decisions on issues, such as affordable housing and rental properties, buses and transportation, parking, law enforcement, public safety, etc.
*According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data in 2016.