Elm City residents and Yale students voting downtown reported facing hiccups such as long wait times and lost registrations while attempting to cast their ballots on Election Day.
Voting booths were open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 31 polling locations throughout New Haven. But according to roughly a dozen voters interviewed Tuesday afternoon, the voting process was inefficient and took far too much time. For Jamachi Eluchie ’19, same-day registration was a three-hour affair.
“I wasn’t too happy because I actually have work right now,” he said. “I have work from six to eight today, but I had to call it off because I didn’t anticipate I would be here for this long.”
But, he added, “It’s worth it. We can’t have tyrants in office.”
Throughout the day at City Hall, where poll moderator Kevin Arnold predicted over 1,000 same-day voters would have to be registered, lines stretched around the second floor of the building.
As per state regulations, voters were not allowed to register after 8 p.m., even if they were already in line. After 6:30 p.m., moderators warned voters that the line to register was taking roughly 90 minutes and that there was no assurance that they would be able to cast a ballot before polls closed.
At 8 p.m., election officials turned away a crowd of about 15 people hoping to register. One of those people, Jen Seleznow, said she had registered online in August, but officials at her local polling station sent her to City Hall after they could not find her records in the system. She added that those officials had assured her she would be able to vote as long as she lined up to register before 8 p.m.
“I mean, I’m disappointed,” she said. “I would like to cast my vote. But one of the gentlemen who works here did say something cool, which was that voter turnout was great. As long as the results are not terrible, I’ll feel not as bad.”
Daniel Paige, who was at City Hall at 6:45 p.m., said he registered to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles. But when he tried to vote in his neighborhood, moderators also told him they could not find his name and directed him to City Hall. Paige, who had to work on Tuesday, stopped by City Hall three times throughout the day to see if the lines were short enough for him to register and vote in time.
For other voters, the process was lengthy but smooth. Kwasi Enin ’18 said he waited roughly two hours to register and vote, and Steve Blazo, a New Haven resident, said the process was orderly but long.
“The process itself is straightforward, it’s just a long line,” Enin said.
Daidra Pearson, who voted Tuesday evening, called the experience “tedious.” But she was glad to have the privilege to vote, even though she had mixed feelings about the candidates, she said.
The Hall of Records, another polling location, also saw high voter turnout. In the morning, the line to vote at the location stretched down Orange Street, wrapped around the corner and ended on Elm Street. But turnout slowed throughout the day: At 2:30 p.m., the line was short enough to fit inside the building, and by 6:45 p.m., there hardly was one.
Alka Bhargava, who voted at City Hall in the afternoon, said she had a positive experience and that city employees were helpful to her.
George Carter, the moderator at the Hall of Records, said the turnout this year was “overwhelming.” He explained that lines were longer today than in previous elections and that he needed to bring in more officials to check voters in. Still, the location only had five booths, exacerbating wait times.
“If I had more booths, those folks wouldn’t be waiting,” Carter said.
Volunteers from New Haven Rising and the Board of Alders handed out surveys at polling locations to determine residents’ top concerns for their city and neighborhoods.
Alder Alberta Witherspoon, who distributed surveys outside City Hall, said she was pleased with Tuesday’s voter turnout.
“People are voting and that’s a good thing,” she said. “People who never voted before are voting.”