As organizers across the country participate in National Voter Registration Day, Yale student leaders are encouraging students to get out and vote.
Yale Votes — a coalition of student organizations including Every Vote Counts, the Yale College Democrats and the Yale College Council — organized a campus-wide event Tuesday to raise voter turnout among Yale students. While the group set up tables in residential college dining halls, the main event was held on Cross Campus for two hours in the afternoon. On Cross Campus, more than 150 students registered for November elections — 54 via paper forms and about 100 through online applications. The Yale College Dean’s office co-sponsored and funded the event.
“We try to get as much energy and excitement behind voter registration as possible,” Director of Voter Engagement for Every Vote Counts Jonathan Schwartz ’21 told the News. “We have a bunch of volunteers come and do voter registration. We have food. We have music. We have photo booths. [Drumming up enthusiasm] is what we’re working on today.”
At the Cross Campus event, students chose to either register to vote in New Haven or request an absentee ballot for their home state. The placement of the event on Cross Campus was targeted to attract students leaving both Bass Library and William L. Harkness Hall, event volunteer Marina Legorreta ’23 said.
Jasselene Paz ’23, one of the students who filled out a request for an absentee ballot, said registering to vote is “always in the back of people’s heads,” but the registration desks make civic engagement easier.
Schwartz added that people aged 18 to 29 have the lowest proportion of voter turnout, even when they seem politically engaged.
“College students tend to be the ones that go out and march and protest and express their opinions, but they’re not the ones going to vote,” he said.
President of the Yale College Democrats Timothy White ’20 said the process for registering vote is “not as easy as it should be.”
“It’s so much more complicated than just ‘I’m going to register to vote,’” White said. “You [have] to think, ‘Am I going to register in New Haven?’ ‘Can I register to vote in my home state?’”
White added that it is “really important that we get [the registration process] right.” The worst thing that could possibly happen is for a voter to arrive at a polling station, but ultimately get turned away because they were not registered, White said.
Earlier this month, several Yale students who thought they had registered to vote in the Democratic primary were turned away at the polls and told that the city had no record of their registration. As the next presidential election approaches, Schwartz said Every Vote Counts is encouraging more students to register to vote.
“What we do now will directly impact how prepared we are for the 2020 election cycle,” Schwartz said. “2019 is important, but it’s also a learning process for next year.”
The New Haven Registrar of Voters is located at 200 Orange St.
Serena Lin | firstname.lastname@example.org