Although voter turnout in the midterm elections was heavy on campus Tuesday, campus turnout may have been dampened slightly by confusion about polling locations.
Residents of Pierson and Davenport Colleges vote at a polling station in the city’s Ward 22 during federal elections even though the colleges are physically located in Ward 1. The Yale Democrats said they tried to clear up the ensuing confusion and maintain high voter turnout. While fewer students turned out to vote than did in the 2006 midterm elections, almost 800 out of 6,000 students did cast votes in wards 1, 2 and 22 by the end of the day.
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The Pierson and Davenport students voted at Wexler/Grant School at 55 Foote St. in Ward 22, switching voting locations with Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges, whose residents cast their ballots at the New Haven public library at 133 Elm St., the Ward 1 polling location.
“It was a bit of a last-minute scramble because we didn’t know about it beforehand, but we did our best to let people know,” Yale College Democrats President Ben Stango ’11 said.
Ward 1 Alderman Michael Jones ’11 said he was pleased with the higher-than-expected turnout in the ward, which is home to the majority of Yale undergraduates.
705 students turned out to vote in Ward 1, and about 80 students voted in wards 2 and 22. In the last midterm election in 2006, during which incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 ran a contentious race against businessman Ned Lamont SOM ’80, 811 voters turned out in Ward 1. The Dems’ goal for Ward 1 turnout this year was 600, Stango said, since it was not a presidential election year and the Senate race, won handily by Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, was not as contentious as in 2006.
Stango said the Democrats’ on-campus get-out-the-vote efforts proved successful, with vans transporting students to and from Wexler/Grant School, signs reminding people to vote scattered throughout campus and many people knocking on doors. About 70 people came to volunteer at the African-American Cultural House, where the Dems headquartered Tuesday.
“Dozens of people told us personally that if they hadn’t gotten a text or a call from us, they would not have voted,” Stango said. “I’m very proud of that.”
The Dems registered 420 Yalies to vote in New Haven this fall, compared to only around 100 last year, and 22.9 percent of the students who registered to vote said they participated in Yale Dems registration drives, according to a News poll conducted Monday. Still, many students were impervious to the organization’s efforts: 58.5 percent of students who said they would vote also said they would cast their ballots in their home states.
The Dems’ efforts to get students to the polls continued on Election Day. Marina Keegan ’12, elections coordinator for the Dems, said nearly every room on campus received a note reminding residents to vote. The Dems also sent out a campuswide e-mail, created a Facebook group and text-messaged every student registered to vote about polling locations, she said.
Stango said he believed about 90 percent of Ward 1 voted Deomcratic.
Six of eight Ward 1 voters interviewed Tuesday said they voted for the Democratic ticket.
Duan Zhang ’13, a Connecticut native, said he voted for Blumenthal over his Republican opponent, Linda McMahon, because he has watched Blumenthal serve with distinction as an attorney general, whereas McMahon, who has not held a public office, is relatively inexperienced.
On the other side, Elizabeth Henry ’14 said she was excited to take part in the national movement toward Republican candidates, which brought the House of Representatives under Republican control. She said she has major concerns about the debt accumulating under President Obama’s watch and wants to see the federal government’s fiscal policy restrained.
There are 2,198 registered voters in Ward 1.