Polls change location for Yalie convenience

Yale students planning on voting in upcoming “Super Duper Tuesday” presidential primaries will not only have to be sure they choose the right candidate — they will also have to make sure they show up to the right place.

So that polling places will be more convenient for many residents, the voting locations have been changed from previous polling sites.

For both the Feb. 5 primary elections and the Nov. 4 presidential elections, students living in Davenport, Pierson, Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges will vote at Wexler/Grant Community School on Foote Street. All other undergraduates living on campus, including those on Old Campus, will vote at the New Haven Public Library on Elm Street.

In past municipal elections, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges were assigned to vote at Wexler/Grant Community School, while Pierson and Davenport colleges were assigned to the New Haven Public Library.

Differences in polling places between municipal elections and state or federal elections have always existed, New Haven Registrar of Voters Sharon Ferrucci said, because state and federal voting districts do not often coincide with aldermanic wards.

But the polling stations for the upcoming presidential elections will be different even from the polling stations of the presidential elections four years ago, Ferrucci said. Federal and state voting districts were originally established by their respective governments, but Ferrucci and Rae Tramontano, the other New Haven Registrar of Voters, said they have been working to alter the polling stations in ways that will make it more convenient for many students to access their appropriate polling place, Ferrucci said.

“We made it easier for the voters,” Ferrucci said. “We did not move anyone we felt would be at a hardship [to get to a different polling station].”

Pierson College is 1.21 miles from its new polling station, Wexler/Grant Community School, and .93 miles from the New Haven Public Library, its old polling station. Timothy Dwight College is only .15 miles away from the New Haven Public Library, its new polling place, as opposed to .98 miles from the old polling place, Wexler/Grant Community School.

Wexler/Grant Community School is outside the boundaries of all the buses and minibuses employed by Yale Transit. But Yale College Democrats will sponsor shuttles to Wexler/Grant on the day of the primaries, group president Benjamin Shaffer ’09.

Students on Yale campus are not the only ones affected by the polling place changes, Tramontano said. Approximately 9,000 of the 40,000 registered voters in New Haven have been assigned to an alternate polling place. Ferrucci and Tramontano said they are also maximizing the limited number of election volunteers by trimming down the number of polling stations from 42 in 2004, to 37 in this year’s February and November presidential elections.

Growth and change in New Haven has caused state/federal and municipal voting districts to diverge, Ward 1 Alderwoman Rachel Plattus ’09 said. This should not be a problem for voters, Plattus said, as long as they are properly notified of polling place changes.

“We don’t want to run the risk of someone who wanted to vote, who may not be able to,” Plattus said.

Although polling places have only changed for 9,000 voters, as many as 20,000 voters were sent letters via first-class mail to notify them of polling-place changes, just to be on the safe side, Ferrucci said.

Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Susan Voigt said there will most likely be a “volunteer effort” to provide automobile rides to take New Haven residents to polling stations on the Feb. 5 election. These shuttle services will most likely depart from senior facilities and other places where registered voters may have trouble reaching their assigned polling station.

In addition to Connecticut, 23 other U.S. states will holding presidential caucuses or primary elections on Feb. 5.

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