With the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 midterm elections less than a week away, six Yale organizations spent Saturday in efforts to increase turnout and registered over 250 students and city residents.
After a day of sitting outsideof the dining halls, recruiting outside Payne-Whitney Gym, and canvassing Old Campus and New Haven’s Dwight district, 264 New Haven residents and Yale students registered to vote in Connecticut, said Marina Keegan ’12, the elections coordinator for the Yale College Democrats. Before this round of registrations, 1200 students were in Yale’s voter file, Keegan said. .
The non-partisan drive was a collaboration between the Dems, Yale College Council, Dwight Hall, and the Black Student Alliance at Yale. They were joined by members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, a social justice group on campus, and New Haven Action, two undergraduate groups focused on social and community issues within the Elm City.
While Keegan claimed that the registration was not politically motivated, she said said she hopes many student registrations at Yale will result in a Democratic vote.
“The senate race is particularly close right now,” she said. “Connecticut is ranked as a toss up for the election, so it’s a really important one,” she added.
The Dems’ target pools for Saturday’s registration push were first-time voters in the freshman class and registered voters who could change their ballot to vote in Connecticut, Keegan said. To help students decide whether to vote in Connecticut or in their home state, volunteers provided sheets comparing the competitiveness of each state’s race.
Conservative groups are participating in the registration drive as well. The Youth Political Engagement Project, a joint initiative between the Yale College Democrats and the Yale College Republicans, will hold a registration session at Wilbur Cross High School in Bridgeport this Friday.
For the non-political student groups involved, registration was more an issue of political engagement than a means to a particular outcome on Nov. 2. Sarah Eidelson ’12, who works with the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, said she spoke to both unregistered and registered New Haven residents about the implications of voting for the Dwight community.
“Lots of people were less concerned with candidates and more in putting the neighborhood on the map,” she said.
New Haven Action’s Drew Morrison ’14 said that for a city of its socioeconomic status, New Haven has a high proportion of registered voters. On Saturday, about 30 New Haven residents registered to vote, Keegan said.
But Morrison said that not all registered voters in New Haven actually vote.
“Because people are registered and don’t vote, we need to show them that their vote does matter,” he said.
Keegan said the groups would follow up with the voters who registered on Saturday by knocking on doors, sending reminder emails, and calling registrants on Election Day.
The final deadline to register to vote in-person at town or city offices is Tuesday, Oct. 19th.