Coffee, voter lists fuel students’ GOTV exports

In Berkeley H31, the Yale College Democrats’ headquarters Tuesday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., no one was at ease.

The approximately 10 students there at dinner time yesterday were dispersed throughout the room, crossing off names on lists of registered voters they had taped to the walls. Past the couches and recycling bin full of beer bottles and Red Bulls stood a black table holding Sharpie markers, voter lists and emptied coffee cups.

“I haven’t slept since 10:00 yesterday morning,” Dems Electoral Campaign Coordinator Sarah Turbow ’10 said slightly after 6:00 p.m.

Across campus, from the New Haven Green to Ezra Stiles College, student groups led last-minute efforts aimed at encouraging students to vote on Tuesday. Although there was an enthusiastic — though divided — push from the Democrats, Republican organizers were mostly MIA.

The College Democrats were out on Yale’s campus starting at 4 a.m., hanging flyers on doors and later canvassing in residential colleges and Old Campus to remind students to vote. Throughout the day, the Dems used 10 cars to transport voters to the Wexler/Grant Community School, where students living in Swing Space and Pierson, Davenport, Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges cast their ballots.

But even as supporters of Senators Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 and Barack Obama both worked to bring out the vote, members of the rival campaigns could feel the rift between them.

When someone sent a text message to Turbow saying that Annette Walton, affectionately known to students as the “Flower Lady,” had voted for Obama, half of the Dems at headquarters cheered loudly — notwithstanding a sign reading “Take off your Obama/Hillary pins” that hung on the door in an effort to promote unity within the group.

“In the Dems E-board, we’re split,” Turbow said. “But we call a truce whenever we have a meeting together.”

The two sides certainly shared a common drive in their campaigning. Indeed, the intermittent rain on “Super Duper Tuesday” did nothing to hinder the efforts of members of Yale Students for Hillary.

As he stood on the corner of the New Haven Green at 7 a.m. with four other student Clinton supporters, Anthony “Rek” LeCounte ’11 held a four-foot high “America for Hillary” sign for oncoming traffic to see. When a passing car honked, the five Clintonites cheered.

“I’ve been here since forever,” LeCounte said. “We want people to vote for her.”

Meanwhile, for several hours before the polls closed at 8 p.m., Yale for Obama members canvassed homes beginning in Ward 2 and then spreading throughout the city, trying to turn a few straggling New Haven residents into last-minute voters.

“We saw just how tremendously excited how students were,” Yale for Obama Communications Director Samuel Schoenburg ’11 said in reference to Yale’s many Obama supporters.

“Hit the ground running”

Despite the Democrats’ evident fervor, Republican efforts were conspicuously absent, as campus Republican leaders said such a push was not worthwhile, given the low number of registered Republicans on campus. Instead, they said, their group will focus on growing its numbers leading up to the general election in November.

For the Yale College Republicans, much of this year’s campaign activity took place before Feb. 5 — and outside of Connecticut.

College Republicans President Kathryn Baldwin ’09 said many of the group’s members choose to cast absentee ballots in their home states. The group did not organize any canvassing or polling initiatives in New Haven yesterday.

“We very rarely focus on local issues,” Baldwin said. “We are much more nationally oriented … because New Haven is so heavily Democratic.”

Still, Baldwin noted the “fair amount of excitement” among group members for Super Tuesday. Several members participated in Republican voter phone banks over the weekend and attended Senator John McCain’s rally at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield on Sunday. She also said the mock Republican primary the group held Jan. 21 was “well received” among group members, although only 19 people voted.

“[The Yale College Democrats] have the people who can get out and have the people to get a lot more things done,” she said. “In trying to get more numbers this semester, we are excited.”

Bradford Galiette ’08, the head of the recently formed Yale Students for McCain, said his group did not do much for Super Duper Tuesday because of the relatively small number of registered Republicans on campus.

His group’s current strategy is to boost membership so that, come fall, it can “hit the ground running” if McCain is the Republican nominee.

Galiette is a former director of finance for the News.

At the New Haven Free Public Library polling station, Kate Kraft ’10, who served as a poll worker in Ward 1, said she spent little of her time yesterday checking Republicans’ names off the voter rolls.

“Yeah, the Republican line is not very busy at all,” she remarked.

A presence on campus?

Despite the hectic pace of the Democratic student groups’ efforts Tuesday, several student voters at the library said they were unaware of the groups’ presence.

“I think the info of where to go was helpful,” said Erica Newland ’08, referring to the blue flyers the Dems hung on students’ doorknobs yesterday morning. “But other than that, I feel the media has done enough.”

Emma Guttman-Slater ’11 agreed, saying she did not see much push from campus political groups in Saybrook College, her residential college.

“I would’ve appreciated more signage,” she said.

Leaving the library around 6 p.m., Chase Olivarius-McAllister ’09, coffee in hand, stopped by the troop of Yale for Hillary students on the Green.

“There is definitely a presence from the usual suspects,” she told the News as she stood by the campaigners. “There’s a good bit of anticipation here.”

Comments