Gritty and the Phillie Phanatic help celebrate National Voter Registration Day

Gritty and the Phillie Phanatic filling out their voter registration forms on September 20, 2022. (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

Gritty and the Phillie Phanatic filling out their voter registration forms on September 20, 2022. (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

Calling this November’s election “historic,” Philadelphia politicians joined political watchdogs to urge people to register to vote. They also got some help drawing attention to their message from the city’s top sports mascots, the Phillie Phanatic and the Flyers’ Gritty.

The effort is part of National Voter Registration Day, part of an all-out push to get more Philadelphians signed up to vote.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport, as they say,” said Al Schmidt, a former City Commissioner and now head of the Election Watchdog group Committee of 70. He said their effort called We Vote is gaining momentum.

“It’s an initiative to help business, nonprofit, community, and university partners to promote a culture of voting across Pennsylvania. We have more than 100 businesses and organizations who have already joined, including our sports teams who are helping us get even more organizations on board with this effort.”

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Philadelphia City Commissioners chair Lisa Deeley said there are certain groups that should be sure to register or change their registration.

“If you have had a change of name, a change of address, or if somebody in your household is or will be 18 on or before November the Eighth, you want to make sure that you use today this occasion of National Voter Registration Day to make sure that you’re a part of the process,” Deeley said. “We don’t want to wait. And 60 days from now, ask ourselves, what could we have done?”

Mayor Jim Kenney spoke of Octavius Catto, whose likeness adorns the sidewalk outside City Hall.

“A 32-year-old Black Philadelphian who lost his life at Seventh and South by assassination for bringing Black men to the polls to vote. And if we don’t stand on his shoulders and we don’t let him, we should not ever let him down. We have to make sure that you don’t. Go and exercise the privilege.”

Former Sixers player World B. Free changed his name during his playing days to send a message and he believes exercising the right to vote is a part of keeping people free.

“I always did have that in mind, you know, when I changed the name from Lloyd to World B. Free, I wish the world could be free one day,” Free said. “What we’re doing right here, right here today, it’s very important for people to come out, make your choices, but make the right choice.”

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Voters in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware can all register to vote online. Residents can also go to their county board of elections and sign up in person.

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