New Haven

In New Haven, a Voter Registration Push Ahead of Deadline

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Election Day is less than two weeks away and time is running out to register ahead of Nov. 3.

“I think for me because I’ve lived and registered in multiple different states, I know that because deadlines differ a lot, I just wanted to do it earlier rather than later so that I knew it would be done,” said Laura Brennan, a Yale University graduate student.

Residents also looking to register lined up Thursday outside the New Haven Registrar of Voters’ office on Orange Street. One by one, staff came outside to sign up voters on the building’s steps.

No one from the office was available to speak with NBC Connecticut, but Democratic Registrar Shannel Evans said briefly that they’re encouraging people to register early rather than on Election Day. In New Haven, past elections have held long lines for people waiting to register.

In Connecticut, the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 27, seven days before the election. It can be done online or in person at a local Registrar of Voters office. After that date, people must sign up in-person on Election Day.

Yale University senior Micah Awodiran is helping classmates avoid those lines through an effort by the student-athlete group Yale Bulldogs for Change.

“When we first started YBC it was in light of George Floyd’s killing, Breonna Taylor’s killing, and all the different injustices we were feeling here in America,” said Awodiran.

He said the group, which consists of athletes of color in varsity sports, wanted to find a way to make a change in the Yale community, and to make sure students had a voice. So, the teams set out on a registration mission, and registered more than 700 students and staff of the athletic department.

“We just had so much pride in the things that we do on campus on and off the field we just wanted this to be an initiative we were leading,” said Awodiran.

In addition to local registration efforts, the city has seen more than double the requests for absentee ballots it saw four years ago.

“The last presidential election we mailed out 6,500,” said Michael Smart, the New Haven City Clerk.

With just twelve days left until Election Day, Smart says they’ve received requests for 14,000 absentee ballots, and processed them all. New requests continue to come in but at a slower rate. He says those voters should receive them by Saturday.

You must follow a certain set of steps to ensure that your absentee ballot will be counted.

So far, 4,000 have been returned. Smart says they’ve hired 16 people to help process ballots, which will be accepted until 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

“We’re in the process of scanning them in and then what will happen is we’re in putting them into our system and the state system so the voters will be able to track their ballots,” said Smart.

Smart said they’re alphabetizing them and will be turned over to the Registrar of Voters for counting on election night.

For in person voting, the health department reviewed the registrar’s health and safety plan for the primary election. Health Director Maritza Bond says they followed safety measures and her office and will check back with the registrar again soon for the general election.

“They have markers, they have signage, they have hand sanitizer, they had a system for the pens, they had a whole health and safety plan,” said Bond.  

Brennan Cumming is new to New Haven and tells NBC Connecticut he registered at the DMV when he got his car and driver’s license. He’s opting to vote the old-fashioned way.

“I think in person there’s just that extra assurance that yep, I did it,” said Cumming.

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