Yale Offering Space to Help Shorten Election Day Registration Lines At New Haven City Hall

Last Election Day, long lines for same-day voter registration at New Haven City Hall caused such chaos some people were unable to vote. 

The city experienced similar problems in previous years. Now they’re looking for solutions. NBC Connecticut has learned that Yale University is offering a space on campus to help shorten those long lines and prevent future problems.

“Our overall goal is to have students be engaged in the city in which they live,” said Burgwell Howard, associate vice president of Student Life for Yale College.

But time ran out for some Yale students who lined up to register and vote in November 2018. Rules require voters to be registered by 8 p.m. Being in line by that time doesn't guarantee a vote.

"There were frustrations I think from the city’s standpoint in just dealing with the workload and the volume," Howard said, "but also from students who really want to participate in the election.”

Howard is the point person working with New Haven's election task force to find a solution.

“So it would be a great way to take some of the pressure off City Hall,” he said.

Dwight Hall may be part of the solution.

"It is really our campus hub for civic engagement,” Howard said of the space on Yale's Old Campus that city election officials will visit next week. “(To) see if it meets the requirements they have from a technological standpoint and space standpoint, but for students this is a space that they frequent.”

Former student Matt Jaffe has voted absentee in his home state, but said he likes the idea of making voting more accessible on campus.

“People of my generation see it as this huge hurdle to just like figure it out," Jaffe said of voter registration. "It's not somethings that’s just one click on a smart phone.”

There are ongoing efforts to educate students about elections deadlines, Howard said.

“Yale has partnered with Turbo Votes once again to help electronically help students register and figure out where they’re supposed to participate,” he said.

So maybe during upcoming Election Days, students won't be left waiting in line without casting a vote.

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