Kiley Marron loves elections.
From running on-campus elections as a member of the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) to working to get out the vote as a field organizer for the Pennsylvania Democrats this past Election Day, Kiley Marron (C’ 21) has made it a personal goal of hers to empower voters and ensure the fairness of elections. She takes pride in the fact that she can recite PA ACT 77, the law that gave Pennsylvanians no-excuse mail-in voting and other early-voting opportunities this past election, by memory.
Kiley found her love for all things voting and politics in high school when she began to develop her interest in law. She jokingly describes her family as “aggressively apolitical.” During high school, her budding interest in law led to her curiosity in the Supreme Court and, before long, an obsession with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. By 2016, Kiley had cemented her interest in politics and political science as she knocked on doors as a volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, her senator Tammy Duckworth, and her state comptroller Susana Mendoza.
In her sophomore year at Penn, Kiley was the vice-chair of elections on the NEC and oversaw the Penn Student Government elections. She was an influential advocate for "The Laptop Amendment," which was a rule passed that outlawed the practice of having candidates holding up a laptop with a ballot on it to pressure passersby to vote for them. Kiley explains: "I've always wanted more competitive elections at Penn and people wanting to better this university with new ideas and new perspectives."
Last school year, Kiley joined the PA Dems Organizer Corps, a training program for students interested in field organizing, and, in the spring, she interned for the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan good-government group in Philadelphia. She notes that these two experiences allowed her to gain invaluable knowledge about Philadelphia that was integral to her success as an organizer this past election cycle.
Taking this fall semester off to work as a field organizer for Ward 1 and 36 in South Philadelphia, Kiley was responsible for recruiting and managing a team of nearly 120 volunteers, running phone-banks, informing voters how to have their vote counted, and leading literature drops in the days leading up to the election. Kiley explains that as an organizer, one of her responsibilities was to make 150 calls a day to voters. She said the key to reaching this lofty target was to get really good at watching TV in between the seemingly endless calls: “I was the queen of having Law and Order: Special Victims Unit on in the background while making calls.”
Through her work, Kiley has become inspired to pursue a career in voter protection law. As the pandemic presented new challenges in exercising one's voting power, an important aspect of her job was to inform voters of their options for voting in this unique year. From mid–September to early October, Kiley recalls leading information sessions for her volunteers, updating them on all the changes made about voting in the city and the state. Although some may have found these details mundane, Kiley recognized the importance of making sure that everyone’s vote was counted.
For Kiley, what drew her to the work was the opportunity to build relationships—from getting to know the voters in South Philly to recruiting a team of loyal volunteers. Among this team was a crew of dedicated phone-bankers in Chicago making calls for her into Philadelphia.
She sums up her ethos: "[Volunteers] really make or break the job in my opinion...actually caring about the people you work with and talk with on a daily basis."