A voter registration rally and health summit took place on Sunday afternoon to increase civic engagement in the city ahead of Election Day.
Several volunteers set up tables on the New Haven Green where community members could register to vote, get their flu shot and receive masks and water. The event was co-sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Emergency Medicine. Attendees visited the tables while a D.J. played music — organizers aimed to foster a welcoming atmosphere. New Haven Democratic Registrar Shannel Evans, who is up for reelection this November, helped organize the event.
“We get the information out now, so hopefully it encourages people for next year to vote for their locals, their [municipalities], not just for federal and our state’s [elections],” Evans told the News. “It’s super important.”
Evans said that while New Haven’s turnout for federal and state elections is consistently high, the city sees low turnout for local elections. In last year’s mayoral election, city voter turnout was only 29 percent.
Despite the current COVID pandemic, Evans said that she anticipates a great turnout for the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Emmanuel “Manny O” Ohuabunwa MED ’17 SOM ’17, another event organizer, spoke to the News about his involvement in the New Haven community over the past nine years as a Yale alum and resident physician in emergency medicine.
Over the years, Ohuabunwa has interacted with New Haven as a medical student, a business student and a resident doctor. He attributed his passion for local affairs and well-being to his parents, who are pastors in Eastern Texas. Ohuabunwa said he grew up in an environment where he was always involved with community events, such as hosting blood pressure and diabetes screenings.
“One of these things I noticed especially this year in terms of the difficulties that have been going on with the community and racial stuff, my desire was how can we as physicians use our platform to be able to make a difference in the lives of people while increasing civic engagement,” Ohuabunwa said. “And so this was important for us to be able to do. I talked to the president of Yale New Haven Health who was very supportive of this [event].”
Ohuabunwa said the organizers’ main consideration for the event was how “we can have a good time but in a very safe way.” The event also provided resources to help individuals get screened for HIV, obtain information related to substance abuse and learn to administer naloxone, a drug to treat narcotic overdoses.
Attendee Addie Aimbrough told the News there was a “pretty decent turnout” for the event.
Approximately 40,473 people in New Haven voted in the 2016 presidential election.
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