To the Editor:
Wednesday’s front page headline “Shopping, strike contribute to low voter turnout in Ward 1” (9/10) reflected neither the facts nor the content of the well-written article by Jacob Leibenluft ’06 and Philip Rucker ’06. The headline singled out and magnified the eye-catching word “strike,” part of one phrase in the text setting the stage for Tuesday’s primary election, creating the impression that the effect of the strike of locals 34 and 35 was a major theme of the article. In fact, not a single student quoted in the article mentioned the strike at all, let alone cited it as a reason for not voting.
The reasons students gave in the article for not voting were lack of information, indifference or being swamped by shopping for classes. The reasons several students gave me as I handed out voting leaflets at the rear gates of Silliman College were that they were under voting age or were registered to vote in another state. A number of passersby, including some Yale students, gladly accepted the leaflets. Some students asked where the polls were and one, a first-time voter, obtained a ride to her polling site through me and a fellow striker who drove her there.
The driver and I were among approximately 200 strikers and GESO members who worked very hard on Tuesday to get out the Yale campus vote. From 10:00 a.m. till the polls closed at 8:00 p.m., working in shifts, we stood at Yale residential college gates handing out leaflets and answering questions or made phone calls and door to door visits to registered voters or arranged and gave rides to the polls.
And we made a difference. Union efforts to get out the Yale campus vote was key to the victory of Drew King of Ward 22, a staunch union supporter.
There is no evidence that the strike lowered voter turnout on Tuesday. Not only were the polls open until 8:00 p.m., six and a half hours after the last picketers were scheduled to disperse (and none had picketed Dwight Hall or Bristol Place), but hundreds of strikers and GESO members helped get out the vote, many of us concentrating our efforts on the Yale campus.
September 10, 2003
The writer is a cataloging assistant at the Yale Divinity Library and a Local 34 striker.