Despite important races for governor and other offices in Connecticut, most Yale voters are planning to cast their votes in their home states instead of in Connecticut.
According to a poll conducted by the News Monday, about 58 percent of 1,141 undergraduate respondents said that they have already voted or plan to vote in today’s midterm elections — just above the national voter participation average in the 2008 general elections. But despite close races in Connecticut and outreach efforts from the Yale College Democrats, 58.5 percent of students who said they will vote plan to cast their ballots in their home states.
This election season, the Yale College Democrats took the lead in campus-wide efforts to get students registered to vote in Connecticut — but just 22.9 percent of the students who will vote said they took part in the Dems’ registration drives. Still, the Dems’ drives were a success compared to previous years. The Dems registered 420 Yalies to vote in New Haven this fall, compared to only around 100 last year, said Marina Keegan ’12, elections coordinator for the Dems.
“We wanted to make it clear that it is important for everyone to register,” said Keegan, “whether it’s here in New Haven or in their home state.”
To help students decide whether to vote in their home state or in Connecticut, the Dems made a chart displaying where it would be most valuable for students to vote based on how tight the races were in each state, Keegan said.
Some students interviewed chose to register in Connecticut instead of their home state because they said they feel a connection with the state after being at Yale for so long.
“I’ve been here for a while, and I’d rather vote here than at home in New Jersey,” said Jane Jeong ’11.
Alexander Oki ’12, a Seattle native, said he voted absentee because he wanted to support his favorite incumbent senator in a close race with a new challenger.
Others, however, said they voted absentee simply because they had already received their absentee ballots before realizing how contentious the races in Connecticut were.
Meagan Jenkins ’14 said that as a registered Democrat in her home state of Wyoming, her vote “doesn’t matter that much since the Republicans always win there.”
“I should have voted here, but I already had a ballot set up,” Jenkins said.
Jeffrey Star ’13 said he would have tried to reregister in Connecticut but added that he did not know how and did not want to commit voter fraud by accidentally registering in two states.
The Dems were unable to register absentee voters, Keegan said, but they could provide information on how to register online and obtain an absentee ballot. Several students interviewed said they plan to vote as absentees because they feel more closely affiliated with their home state than with New Haven or Connecticut.
Whether students vote in Connecticut or in their home states, there are many competitive political races across the country, Keegan said.
To engage as many students as possible, the Dems began the registration process early in the school year — during Camp Yale, the group set up stations on Old Campus to recruit freshmen, said Andie Levien ’12, a member of the Dems. By the end of the week, Levien said, over 100 freshmen had registered. The Dems were also the primary sponsor for a large registration drive, which it operated in conjunction with other campus groups Oct. 9.
The registration process was nonpartisan, Keegan said, because the Dems were required by law to register anyone who wished to sign up and could not refuse any participants. The Dems plan to make sure their registrants actually vote, regardless of their political affiliation, Levien said.
“We are going to monitor to see who actually voted in the morning,” she said, “and we are going to call those who didn’t in the afternoon and encourage them to go out and vote.”
Polls opened today at 6 a.m. in Connecticut, and close at 8 p.m.