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    Constitution and Citizenship Day 2021 and Upcoming Elections  

    September 15, 2021

    Sept. 17, 2021, marks Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, commemorating the 234th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution and recognizing all those who have become U.S. citizens.

    The day is an annual opportunity to reflect on the importance of active citizenship, including the right to vote. The Constitution, as originally written, did not establish specifically who could or could not vote; this was left for the states to determine. It was decades after 1787 that the right to vote was protected for all Americans, including African Americans and women. The 15th amendment, ratified in 1870 prohibited the denial of voting rights based on race, and the 19th amendment, ratified in 1920 gave women the right to vote. 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the 26th amendment, lowering the universal voting age from 21 to 18 years, providing greater access to voting for young Americans, including college students.

    Events: Last week, the University’s Schemel Forum hosted Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science from Yale University, to discuss his book, "The Words That Made Us: America’s Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840," in which Amar revives U.S. constitutional history for a 21st century nation, confronting the founders’ failures and successes. The event can be viewed online here. On Thursday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. (noon CST), Dr. Jean Harris, Professor in the Political Science Department, will be part of a virtual panel discussion, “Constitutional Politics in a Pandemic Era,” together with her fellow authors of "American Democracy Now." Further details and registration info are available here. 

    Local & State Election Information: Whether it is presidential, national, or local, each vote counts toward deciding an election. This year, Lackawanna County is hosting its Municipal Elections on Nov. 2 (mail-in and absentee ballots must be received by 8:00 p.m.). The ballot will include city, school board, judicial, and state-level candidates. Oct. 18 is the last day to register before the November election and Oct. 26 is the last day to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot. Students who are registered to vote in Lackawanna County, and who vote, can play a role in influencing how elected officials in Scranton and Lackawanna County will spend resources and shape local policies. The University’s Royals Vote non-partisan voter engagement initiative has compiled resources to help navigate the process, including information on voter registration, common voting terms and definitions, and how voting connects to Ignatian spirituality.

    Center for Ethics and Excellence in Public Service (CEEPS) Activities: In October, the University’s new Center will have a formal launch event and will be hosting local candidate forums in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Lackawanna County, including: Oct. 13 (Lackawanna Court of Common Pleas and 113th Legislative State House District Special Election), Oct. 14 (Scranton Mayor and Scranton City Council), and Oct. 19 (Scranton School Board). For more information about those events and the work of CEEPS, contact co-directors Dr. Jean Harris or Dr. JoyAnna Hopper in the Political Science Department at ceeps@scranton.edu.   

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