Ward 1 Alderwoman Rebecca Livengood ’07 and independent challenger Nick Shalek ’05 each showed their distinct styles of campaigning during Monday night’s final push to register students in Ward 1 in time for today’s registration deadline.
While Livengood’s campaign teamed up with the Yale College Democrats to canvass door-to-door in Saybrook and Branford, Shalek’s campaign focused on getting in touch with students who had already expressed interest in the campaign, in an effort to reach out to them and their friends.
Livengood campaign representatives said Monday night they had so far registered approximately 460 students, 400 of whom are in Ward 1. Shalek’s campaign has registered around 300 Ward 1 students, Shalek campaign manager Brett Edkins ’06 said. Livengood’s campaign manager Suzanne Kahn ’07 said the 460 students are disproportionately freshmen, whereas Edkins said the 300 students Shalek’s campaign has registered are evenly spread across the years.
Edkins said Shalek’s canvassing strategy is an intentional departure from how candidates usually campaign within the colleges. With Shalek personally going around to individual students his campaign had identified as likely voters, Edkins said, Shalek aims to ultimately convince groups of friends to register and vote for him.
“We’ve placed most of our emphasis on not just canvassing wildly but on people we know who have expressed interest,” Edkins said. “We intended right from the beginning to steer clear from banging on random doors because it’s kind of aggressive, and we just felt that a better way would just be to sit down with your friends and talk through the issues.”
But Livengood’s campaign continued last night with the door-to-door canvassing strategy it has employed so far in the campaign, which Livengood said is the only way to ensure everyone who wants to register in Ward 1 has a chance to do so. Kahn said the campaign, with the help of the College Democrats, has knocked on every door in each Ward 1 residential college once and every door on Old Campus twice.
“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive at least in the sense that people want to know what’s going on and what Rebecca’s positions are,” Kahn said. “We’re extremely excited about the number we registered.”
Kevin Bock ’08, registrar of voters for the College Democrats, said Shalek’s method of relying upon existing supporters for outreach instead of knocking on each door in a college ensures that their campaign will overlook students who may want to register to vote in New Haven.
“[Shalek’s campaign] assumes there’s a hostile reaction, and there’s not, as we’re doing a service that people by and large appreciate — this is the only way to give everyone who wants to register to vote a chance,” Bock said. “[Shalek’s] method misses a lot of people.”
But Edkins said the campaign has been satisfied with its number of registrations and trusts that their more one-on-one approach to registration has been effective.
“It’s one-on-one contact, hopefully, as we try to have fewer campaign people go out and more Nick go out — it’s much easier for Nick to sell himself than for us to sell him,” he said.
Noah Kazis ’09, who has been knocking on doors with the Livengood campaign, said most students have been receptive, and that he has been able to convince a number of students to register in New Haven by explaining how students can re-register at home after the election.
“‘I want to vote at home’ is the number one reason [people don’t register in New Haven],” Kazis said. “Past that, you can usually talk then into it, because there aren’t any other good reasons not to register.”
Several freshmen on Old Campus said they have been approached by at least one representative from one of the campaigns, though they said the representative’s campaign affiliation will have little impact on who ultimately gets their vote.
“I was in my room and they just knocked,” Britta Kelley ’09 said. “It was kind of convenient actually because I’d been meaning to register but hadn’t known where to go.”
Josh Garcia ’09 said he was registered by a friend who was working with Shalek’s campaign.
“It was actually one of my friends who’s active in the campaign — he just mentioned it over dinner and he brought me the form,” he said. “That was the only person I had contact with. I think someone came to my suite one time; I’m not sure who they were representing, but I wasn’t there.”
That same friend later approached Garcia about hosting a talk with Shalek in his suite. Garcia said the talk, which was aimed at the approximately 50 students in their entryway, attracted around 20 students.
Bock said the College Democrats are registering voters who live in home states with important upcoming gubernatorial races or referenda on the ballot, such as New Jersey, Virginia and Ohio.