Yale was hardly the focus of New Haven’s elections Tuesday.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. did not concentrate on Yale student votes in this election, according to his deputy campaign manager. And Ward 22 alderman-elect Greg Morehead said he won Tuesday thanks to support from the Dixwell neighborhood at large, not just the ward’s Yale students. Though Saybrugian Mike Jones ’11 was elected Ward 1 alderman, he ran unopposed.
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But even though no candidate Yale students could support relied solely on Eli votes, some Yalies nonetheless trickled out to the polls to fulfill their civic duty.
“Even if the elections are uncontested, it’s really important [to vote],” voter Austin Clarke ’10 said while exiting the New Haven Free Public Library, the Ward 1 polling place, on Tuesday. “It just shows support for [Jones] and his candidacy.”
In general, Yale student turnout remained low for Tuesday’s election, DeStefano deputy campaign manager Ben Shaffer ’09 said. Out of the 2,000 eligible voters in Ward 1 — where the constituents are primarily Yale students — only 110 turned out to the polls. (This number was about the same in 2007, when Rachel Plattus ’09 ran unopposed for alderwoman.) And as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, nine Yale undergraduates had voted in Ward 22, said Audrey Huntington ’11, who counted Yale votes for Morehead’s campaign.
DeStefano’s campaign manager, Keya Jayaram, said in an interview earlier this month that Yalies are generally not the biggest factor in determining who wins or loses New Haven elections. Shaffer added that he thinks more Yale students did not vote in the election because it was not competitive and because many students are registered in their home states.
Still, the Yale College Democrats tried to do their part to encourage voting in the municipal and general election, Dems lobbying coordinator Ben Stango ’11 said. The Dems hung signs on doors, shuttled Ward 22 voters to the Wexler/Grant Community School and called friends registered in New Haven. But Stango said the group’s focus shifted Tuesday to calling residents in Maine and Virginia — for Maine, to vote against a referendum to repeal a same-sex marriages law and, for Virginia, to vote for the Democratic gubernatorial ticket.
Stango said on Election Day that the students they shuttled came at a “slow but steady” rate, but he added this was to be expected for an off-year municipal election.
Still, Dems election coordinator Christopher Chen ’11 said Yalies who did vote in Ward 22 made a difference because the race was closer than expected. Although write-in candidate Lisa Hopkins pulled in 107 absentee ballots, receiving 194 votes in total, Morehead eventually won with 237 votes. Morehead’s other opponent, Cordelia Thorpe, had 18.
Madeline Emery ’11 voted in Ward 22 after asked by a friend in the Dems. Emery said her friend quickly explained the candidates’ platforms before she was shuttled to the polling place. She said she would not have voted otherwise out of “laziness.”
At Ward 1, Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent ’12, who is a staff reporter for the News, said he thinks voting is a “democratic duty” but that he probably would have changed his registration back to his hometown of Southbury, Conn. had he known the New Haven races were uncontested this year. But he added that he wanted to vote to make sure “no freak accidents happened.”
A few minutes later, Emanuel Marshack ’12 said he voted against incumbent DeStefano because of the multiple mailings he received in his P.O. Box from the incumbent mayor.
“I was resentful that he was spending money to a put another ad in my mailbox,” he said. “That’s why I didn’t vote for him.”
Nonetheless, DeStefano won with 74.5 percent of the vote, and Jones won Ward 1 with 96 votes. Turnout across the city was 17.6 percent.