Students go to polls today

Going into Election Day, the presidential race remains too close to call, and Connecticut is unlikely to play a significant role in determining the outcome.

With the latest polls indicating the candidates remain in a statistical dead heat nationally, the results of the election remain in the hands of voters in key swing states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Many analysts have said the results will depend to a large extent on how well the candidates manage to get their supporters to the polls in these states.

Though the majority of New Haven’s votes are likely to go to Democratic Party candidates in elections that are not expected to be closely contested, many students are spending the day working to support their parties and helping people find their way to the polls.

Many students may need the help: Due to redistricting, they will not necessarily vote in the polling location for their ward. Students registered on Old Campus or in Berkeley, Branford, Calhoun, Jonathan Edwards, Saybrook, Silliman, Timothy Dwight and Trumbull colleges will be voting at the Ward 1 polling place, the New Haven Public Library. Students registered in Davenport (or Swing Space), Ezra Stiles, Morse and Pierson will be voting at the Ward 22 location, the Edith Johnson Towers at 114 Bristol St.

Where students vote is based on where they are registered, not where they live, so those who are registered on Old Campus but now live in a Ward 22 residential college should still vote in Ward 1.

Ward 22 Democratic co-chair Alyssa Rosenberg ’06 said some anxiety is likely to ensue from the changes in polling location, but volunteers will be working to clarify the situation.

“If people show up at the wrong polling place, we’ll make sure they get to the right one,” Rosenberg said. “No one is going to lose their right to vote over this. It’s just obviously confusing.”

Rosenberg is a columnist for the Yale Daily News.

Voters registered in Connecticut will be able to choose from six candidates on today’s presidential ballot: Republican President George W. Bush ’68, Democratic Sen. John Kerry ’66, Green Party candidate David Cobb, Concerned Citizens candidate Michael Peroutka, Libertarian Michael Badnarik and independent Ralph Nader.

With a newly-released poll by Research 2000 indicating that Kerry has widened his lead in Connecticut to 10 percent — an earlier poll showed Bush within 6 points — many now consider the state to be locked up for the Democrats. New Haven, traditionally a particularly liberal part of the state, is likely to vote overwhelmingly in Kerry’s favor.

Ward 1 has a strong history of voting for Democratic candidates. In the 2000 presidential election, former Vice President Al Gore received 64.7 percent of the ward’s vote. Bush received 15.7 percent, coming in third place in the ward behind Nader, who garnered 17.8 percent of the vote.

In this year’s race for U.S. Senate, Connecticut voters can vote for Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, Republican challenger Jack Orchulli, Concerned Citizens candidate Timothy Knibbs or Libertarian Leonard Rasch.

New Haven voters are also voting for their representative to the U.S. House, choosing between Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Republican Richter Elser ’81 and Green Party candidate Ralph Ferrucci.

In addition, voters are electing state senators, state representatives and a registrar of voters.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. is campaigning throughout the city today, hitting several voting locations in support of Democratic state Rep. Toni Walker. He will also make appearances in support of fellow Democrats DeLauro, Dodd and Congressional candidate Jim Sullivan.

DeStefano said New Haven is expecting high voter turnout this year, with a record number of absentee ballots coming in and high anticipated young voter turnout.

“I think people are pretty passionate about this election,” DeStefano said.

The Yale College Republicans are organizing last-minute phone banking efforts both within Connecticut and to swing states today. Students are targeting Connecticut residents voting in the 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts to support Republican incumbent Reps. Rob Simmons and Christopher Shays, in addition to phoning voters in Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Florida on behalf of the Bush campaign.

“We try to give people an impression of how important it is to get out to the polls,” YCR President Al Jiwa ’06 said. “I think it really does make a difference. It’s impressing upon you that the stakes are so high, the votes really do count.”

Similarly, the Yale College Democrats are phone banking to key swing states like Nevada and Florida. The YCD are also helping people vote by volunteering at the Ward 1 polling location and running several group trips to the Ward 22 location.

“A lot of people don’t know where to go,” YCD President Nirupam Sinha ’05 said. “It’s not so much reminding people to vote but reminding them that the place has been switched, so it’s a non-partisan effort.”

In addition, students supporting both major candidates are leaving the state to volunteer their support in swing states. The YCD are sending a van with about 15 people to campaign in Pennsylvania for the day, while the YCR are sending out students to both Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

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