This week, Elm City Market customers can walk out with both groceries and the ability to vote.
The market recently launched an initiative allowing eligible U.S. citizens to register on-site to vote in its location at 777 Chapel St. in downtown New Haven. Customers are additionally incentivised to register as the market will offer a 10 percent discount to those who choose to complete the registration form in the store — as long as shoppers can show identification and proof of New Haven residence — or arrive to shop wearing an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day.
“I thought it was important for the community and important in New Haven. To me, it just matches up with what our mission is — making people aware,” Elm City Market CEO Kurt Luttecke said. “It’s amazing how many people can vote and don’t. To me, we’re serving the right message. And we’re serving good food too. So if we can do both at the same time, it’s a win-win.”
According to data from the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State, the number of registered voters in Connecticut has increased by 188,872 from 2015 to 2017.
Janice Nieves, Elm City Market employee, works at the voter registration desk and helps customers complete forms that will be submitted to New Haven’s registrar of voters.
“A lot of people actually have told me that they’re already registered, so we haven’t had too many registrations so far,” Nieves said. “But to me, at least it’s good to know that people have registered.”
Though the registration desk has not seen significant activity in the past few days, Luttecke remains optimistic that numbers will increase as election day draws closer and awareness of the market’s services spreads. He said customers asked many logistical questions about the registration process and were unsure whether it could be wholly completed at the market.
“We can do it all here,” Luttecke assured the News.
Luttecke added that these initiatives are especially important during the midterms, which he claimed are equally as significant as presidential elections.
Nieves said that participation in the democratic process is crucial to incite productive change in any community.
She added that the market staff agreed that galvanising residents to vote and making information about registration easily available are important parts of the company’s goals.
“I actually encourage people to register so they at least have the option to use their voice. I think it’s very important because if you don’t like how something is going, you can vote and change that,” Nieves said. “If you don’t register, you can’t. You’re just complaining.”
Aslinan Asiz LAW ’20, who is an Elm City Market shopper, was excited by the prospect of convenient voting for New Haven residents.
“It’s a place where people come often, so if you come here and see the signs, you might be more likely to vote,” she said.
Even though she is an international student from Turkey, Asiz said she would certainly register at the market if she were eligible.
The registration window at Elm City Market will last from Oct. 22 to Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. New Haven midterm Election Day will be on Nov. 6 at local polls from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Meera Shoaib | firstname.lastname@example.org .