Calvin Nicholson ’00 has adopted the Green Lantern for his alter ego in his campaign as Green Party candidate for the New Haven registrar of voters, with the catch phrase “Bitch less. Act more. Vote Nov. 2nd.”
Nicholson, a lifetime resident of the Newhallville neighborhood and a product of New Haven public schools, said he hopes to empower the city’s citizens as registrar. Nicholson’s responsibilities would include overseeing voter registration, annual canvassing for primaries and elections and compiling and retaining accurate statistical information for federal, state and municipal government agencies.
Nicholson said his choice not to run under the Democratic Party resulted from the events in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.
“When the 2000 election came up, Democratic Party’s national leadership didn’t do anything to combat the disenfranchisement of the minority vote,” he said. “They weren’t willing to go to bat for the people — it shows what happens when people aren’t dedicated, shows how much power you have as a registrar.”
Nicholson said the current registrars are too passive in getting citizens to vote. He said he plans to work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, local churches and People Against Injustice to promote voter registration in New Haven’s minority communities and high schools.
“Working class communities like Hill section, West Hill, they tend to have less than Ward 9, Ward 19, Ward 10 where Yale professors and graduate students live,” Nicholson said. “It goes to show, in the African-American and Latino communities, voter education is the biggest task and getting people to vote is the biggest task.”
Nicholson, who graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in applied physics, said his technical background as a computer programmer in Fairfield County is integral to his campaign platform. Nicholson said a candidate should have technical expertise to combat electronic voter fraud since 2002’s Help America Vote Act required all states to have at least one electronic-voting machine in each polling station by 2006.
“The idea is that you need someone whose life has been dedicated to technology,” Nicholson said.
Connecticut state law requires each state municipality to have a Democratic and Republican registrar. Should a third party candidate be elected, the major parties keep their seats and the third-party candidate joins them in the office.
These laws make the Green Party ticket a perfect choice for Nicholson, since his candidacy does not threaten the offices of 15-year-incumbents Sharon Ferrucci and Rae Tramontano, the respective Democratic and Republican registrars of voters, said Nicholson’s campaign treasurer and co-chair of the Green Party Charles Pillsbury ’70 DIV ’90.
“You can’t accuse us of running a spoiler campaign,” Pillsbury said. “No matter what, the incumbents get to stay. All we have to do is beat the Republicans and come in second to elect a third party to the Office of Registrar.”
Ferrucci, the incumbent registrar of voters, said the position is inherently nonpartisan.
“If he wins, I hope he’ll work along with us,” Ferrucci said. “It’s hands-on dealing with the public, and our job is to make sure the elections run fairly.”