FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2020
NFL Legend Franco Harris will serve as Chair
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Professional athletes, notable sports figures, and leaders from non-profit organizations and academia have joined the VoteSafe Pennsylvania coalition to serve as community ambassadors. Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Franco Harris will serve as community ambassador chair.
VoteSafe Pennsylvania is advocating for secure mail-in ballots and safe in-person voting sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Franco Harris, a graduate of Penn State, played for the Steelers for 12 years and one year for the Seattle Seahawks. A four-time Super Bowl Champion in the 1970s, he was MVP of Super Bowl IX and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. Widely regarded as one of the best players to have ever played professional football, Franco is probably best known as the man who caught and scored the “Immaculate Reception,” a play often ranked as the great moment in NFL history.
Since retiring from the NFL, Franco has become a prominent businessman, philanthropist, and civic leader. For decades, he has been involved in politics, often publicly advocating for important issues.
“I joined this coalition because I believe we all have a role to play in the upcoming election,” said Harris. “Over the next few months, we will be working to reach one individual, one place, and one community at a time. This pandemic has impacted all of us and many Pennsylvanians are worried about their health. No one should have to risk their health for simply exercising their right to vote.”
VoteSafe Pennsylvania is advocating for secure mail-in ballots and safe in-person voting sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition’s community ambassadors will work to raise awareness among Pennsylvania residents, so they know what voting options are available to them under the state’s constitution and according to county election laws.
In addition to Harris, the following individuals will serve as Community Ambassadors:
- Jimmy Rollins, shortstop and offensive sparkplug for the Philadelphia Phillies during their great run in the 2000s. National League MVP in 2007, four-time Gold Glove winner. Played for the Phillies for 14 years
- Mike Quick, five-time Pro Bowl participant during his nine seasons as a wide receiver with the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Dick Vermeil, Super Bowl-winning coach for the St. Louis Rams. Fifteen-year NFL head coach, who also took Eagles to the Super Bowl in 1980.
- Sister Mary Scullion, President and Executive Director of Project HOME
- Aaron Walton, President of Cheyney University
- Bill Golderer, President of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia
- Jennie Shulkin, Attorney
- Gwen Camp, Voting Rights Advocate
During the recent June primary, which was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians voted. More than 1.4 million of those votes, or 51 percent, were cast through mail-in ballots, making it for the first time in this state’s history that in-person voting was eclipsed by votes received by mail.
Because of the pandemic, the risk to public health could last months. Experts are warning of a second, potentially even larger, wave of infections this fall, even as cases trend upward now. This makes it all the more important for Pennsylvanians to understand their options, including the new option to vote by mail.
Despite the many myths about voting by mail, the reality is that mail-in ballots are a safe and secure method, and do not give either political party an advantage.
VoteSafe Pennsylvania is a bipartisan coalition that is led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed and former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, who also served as 32nd Undersecretary of the U.S. Army. All five of Pennsylvania’s former living governors have signed on to endorse the initiative, as have current and former elected officials.
About VoteSafe Pennsylvania
VoteSafe Pennsylvania is a bipartisan coalition comprised of community leaders, advocates, nonprofit organizations, former elected officials, and election experts who all want the same things—an efficient, accessible, secure mail-in ballot process and safe, in-person voting sites that ensure Pennsylvanians won’t have to risk their health for simply standing in line to vote. VoteSafe Pennsylvania is part of VoteSafe US, a national cross-partisan coalition of elections administrators and organizations that endorse the simple principle that every American has the right to vote safely amidst the pandemic. For more information, go to pa.votesafe.us.
Media Contact: Caitlin O’Connor