Most students start off the year with new roommates, a new phone number and new notebooks. But some should think about a new voter registration.
Student vote registrars said it is a little known fact that people changing their places of residence from on-campus to off- or from Old Campus to a residential college should also update their voter registration.
Rae Tramontano, Republican registrar for New Haven, said changing an address for voter registration simply involves filling out a one-page form and can be done any time, including on the day of the election.
Erica Freed ’03, co-registrar of voters in Ward 1, said most students have no idea that they need to change their registration if they switch wards.
“Overwhelmingly, I would say that people are probably entirely unaware,” Freed said.
The president of Yale College Democrats, Abbey Hudson ’03, said the Dems are working hard to register students properly.
“We are in the process of going to each of the colleges and Old Campus to make sure that people are registered in the correct ward,” Hudson said. “Quite a few students have switched. It’s very important to make sure that everything is done accurately.”
Students residing in Davenport and Pierson Colleges are in Ward 7, while students living in Ezra Stiles and Morse Colleges are in Ward 22. Old Campus and the remaining eight residential colleges are part of Ward 1. The ward you vote in depends on where you sleep, not your mailing address.
Freed said ward affiliation is only relevant to aldermanic elections.
Voting under a false identification is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Freed also said voter fraud is only a problem when people actively try to register voters in the wrong ward — and not when people are simply uninformed.
“Apparently a while ago, people aggressively sought to register people in wrong wards,” Freed said. But, she added, voter fraud in New Haven “is certainly not a rampant offense in any way.”
Incorrect voter registration remains a sensitive issue after a 1999 scandal involving a Yale aldermanic candidate, Asit Gosar ’00, who won the Ward 7 seat after purposefully misregistering students from Ward 1.
But Freed said that these days, registrars are focusing more on getting new voters than changing current registrations — suggesting that New Haven may have managed to shake off the vestiges of the Gosar controvery.
“Ward to ward, we don’t really make that much of an effort to make sure that people change,” she said.