On Nov. 7, students will head to the polls and cast their ballots in the 2023 general election. The ballot will include a number of key state-wide races for positions on the Supreme Court, Superior Court, and Commonwealth Court. Students registered to vote in Swarthmore will also vote in Delaware County races for Court of Common Pleas, County Council, and District Attorney, as well as Swarthmore County Council and School District Director.
SwatVotes, Swarthmore Democrats, the Lang Center, and the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) Committee have been preparing for the upcoming election to increase Swarthmore’s voter turnout of 75.9%, according to the 2020 National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. This is lower than both Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College, who are at 81.5% and 84.0%, respectively. To inform students of the upcoming election, SwatVotes assembled a voter guide that outlines important dates and provides resources about the candidates running for office.
In an interview with The Phoenix, Ian Shayne ’24, co-president of Swarthmore Democrats, emphasized the importance of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race. The seven-person court currently has one vacancy after Chief Justice Max Baer’s death in October 2022 and sits with a 4-2 Democratic majority. The race will be between Democrat David McCaffery and Republican Carolyn Carluccio.
“The state Supreme Court plays an important role in determining voting and reproductive rights. Whoever wins this election may determine the future of voting rights in Pennsylvania because the Court has been split on many election issues,” he said.
Shayne mentioned that students should consider the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s nonpartisan ratings for each judge on the ballot. For the Supreme Court race, the PBA lists McCaffery and Carluccio as “highly recommended.”
In addition to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, there are also vacancies in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, charged with reviewing civil and criminal cases appealed from the Court of Common Pleas, and the Commonwealth Court, which is unique to Pennsylvania and handles legal matters involving regulatory agencies and state and local government. These two intermediate courts can appeal cases directly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. These races will be consequential for Pennsylvanians, as the Commonwealth Court shapes Pennsylvania law on important issues, like elections and gun control. The Superior Court also makes decisions on high-profile criminal cases.
The seats on the Superior Court will be contested by Democrats Jill Beck and Timika Lane and Republicans Maria Battista and Harry Smail. The Commonwealth Court race will be between Democrat Matt Wolf and Republican Megan Martin.
It is important to understand the issues at hand in each of the races – both state-wide and local – said Danika Grieser ’26 in an interview with The Phoenix. Grieser is a representative from GOTV and SwatVotes and emphasized the importance of voting in Pennsylvania, which has historically been a swing state. She noted that students should be informed about the different races on the ballot. Grieser chose to vote absentee so that she could vote in her home district’s school board elections.
“My vote impacts my home so much more significantly. It has a very direct impact on the way that my siblings are educated, has a direct impact on the way that my teachers that I had personal connections with are going to be challenged,” she said.
In addition to her roles in SwatVotes and GOTV, Grieser also serves as the Vice President of the Student Government Organization (SGO), where she introduced a resolution alongside SwatVotes to cancel classes on election day, citing high student demand for canceling classes. This semester, SwatVotes has been working on introducing the measure to Swarthmore administrators.
SwatVotes, the Lang Center, and GOTV have been collaborating to increase voter turnout this year. They plan to collaborate and have shuttles running 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Singer traffic circle to the two polling locations for Swarthmore students: CADES (Children and Adult Disability Educational Services) and Swarthmore Rutledge School. Students who are unsure of where they are assigned should check their voter registration, as it determines the polling location. In addition, voters should ensure that they bring identification with their full government name to their respective polling location.
In addition to the shuttles, there will also be food trucks in Singer traffic circle from 12-4 p.m. Additionally, on Nov. 6, the day before election day, SwatVotes will be hosting a “parallel voting” event where students will be able to vote on their favorite candy and also to remind students to vote.
Sharvari Tatachar contributed reporting.