The Yale College Democrats and Yale College Republicans came together on Sunday afternoon to pursue a common goal — registering students to vote.
The two political groups provided roughly twenty volunteers and publicity for the drive, which was conducted through the Yale College Council Sunday on Old Campus and in the dining halls. The YCC registered 60 voters during the drive, giving students a chance to vote in the upcoming highly contested Connecticut gubernatorial elections. Jonathan Edwards College YCC representative and Yale Dems Elections Coordinator Tyler Blackmon ’16 said he first proposed that the YCC coordinate a voter registration drive because many students are hesitant to register to vote with partisan organizations such as the Yale Dems and the YCR.
According to Blackmon, although the Yale Dems have already registered over 200 voters, many students question its motives because the group has a particular political affiliation. YCR Social Chair Briana Burroughs ’17 said that the YCR chose to participate in the YCC voter registration drive for the same reasons.
“We do want people to register and we want them to know there’s political diversity when they register,” Burroughs said, adding that she thought students would be more comfortable registering if they saw political diversity in the groups conducting the drive.
Yale student voters might have the chance to play a significant role in the upcoming gubernatorial election. In 2010, over 1.1 million voters in Connecticut cast ballots in the election between incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, and Republican Tom Foley. However, Malloy won by just over 6,400 votes, which is roughly the size of the Yale undergraduate population. Recent polls indicate that the upcoming race is also narrow — the Huffington Post currently reports Foley to be leading by just three percentage points.
“State elections are usually close. Dan Malloy was the first Democrat to win in over 22 years,” Blackmon said. “This election could come down to a few hundred votes.”
Historically, more than a few hundred Yale students have turned out to vote on Election Day. During the 2012 Obama campaign, over 1,000 Yale College students voted, according to estimates from the Yale Dems. In the much smaller 2013 Ward 1 Alderman election, around 800 Yale students voted.
Akintunde Ahmad ’18 and Hannah Green ’18 — two new voter registrants at Sunday’s drive — said they were undecided on which candidate they supported. Both students said that in deciding whom to vote for, they would consider the candidates’ approach to solving social issues, such as inequality.
“Particularly in New Haven and Connecticut, there’s so much inequality and I’d rather have someone who counteracts that disparity,” Green said.
Ahmad added that although he has not yet researched the two candidates, he will likely vote liberal because he thinks that conservative fiscal policies exacerbate inequality.
Meanwhile, Burroughs said she plans to vote for Foley because she favors prioritizing fiscal sustainability. She emphasized that because the two candidates share similar social views but differ on their economic agendas, she hopes that Yale students will learn more about the candidates’ economic agendas.
“Yeah, I do think that Yale students are able to make a difference,” Burroughs said. “For most people here, social issues are the main thing, but both candidates are socially liberal.”
On the other hand, Olivia Paschal ’18, a member of the Yale Dems, chose to campaign for Malloy based on his economic agenda. According to Paschal, Foley unequivocally believes in cutting spending, which she said is not always the best solution. She added that Malloy has chosen the best economic policies even though they might have been unpopular.
The next Connecticut gubernatorial debate is in Hartford on Oct. 9.