The Yale College Democrats are making the final push to get voters registered as the election nears, but Republicans have been conspicuously absent from registration drives.
In the last month, the Yale Political Engagement Project, a College Democrats committee for raising political awarness, has held three nonpartisan registrations, said Katharine Gallogly ’12, the Political Engagement Coordinator for the Democrats. While College Democrats said they see the voter drives simply as a chance to increase voter turn-out, Yale College Republicans described the drives as part of the democrats’ political agenda.
Trevor Wagener ’11, the president of the Yale College Republicans, said in an e-mail that the Yale College Republicans declined to participate in the joint registration drives because the drives were intended to advance Democratic chances in November.
“A Yale College Republican presence would have done little to advance the Right and would have given the Left some basis to claim that the event was in any way balanced,” he said. “As it actually occurred, it was a group of Left and hard Left groups, with zero moderate or conservative groups involved. They invited us as tokens rather than in an actual spirit of nonpartisanship.”
But Ben Stango ’11, the president of the Yale College Democrats, said inviting the Republicans to the Oct. 9 drive was not merely for show.
“Legally, there can be no partisan nature to a registration drive. It was not at all a token gesture,” he said.
Stango said that aside from co-sponsoring the Yale Political Engagement Project, Republican activism on campus is nonexistent, a trend he said he has noticed throughout his time at Yale.
“You see [Republicans] in the YPU and at certain other social gatherings, but you don’t see them out there doing things that actually make a difference in politics,” he said. “The fact is, the majority of them have never worked on a campaign, never run a voter registration, never done things that contribute meaningfully to democracy.”
The Yale College Republicans’ efforts are not as visible because the group only has six active members, Yale College Republican Cyprien Sarteau ’12 said.
The Democrats, with over 150 members, have been able to create a strong infrastructure for activism, Stango said.
Wagener said that instead of participating in registration drives, the Yale College Republicans have fundraised and phonebanked for competitive races including the U.S. Senate race.
At registration at Wilbur Cross High School on Oct. 15, the project focused on raising awareness about the election, in addition to registering 19 first-time voters, Gallogly said.
“Voter registration is non-partisan, so we handed out sheets with images of all the candidates so that students could connect what they see on TV with this election,” she added.
On Oct. 8, the group registered 22 New Haven residents at the local YMCA. A joint drive held by Dwight Hall, YCC, Yale Democrats, the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, New Haven Action, and the Black Student Alliance at Yale on Oct. 9 brought in 264 new voters.
Marina Keegan ’12, the elections coordinator for the Dems, said that while the Oct. 9 drive was not politically motivated, it is probable that the majority of Yale students registered would vote Democrat in the election.
Oct. 26 is the last day to register to vote in person at the New Haven Registrar of Voters Office on Orange Street.