Organizations help students register, concerns remain

UConnPIRG tables near the Student Union in order to get students registered to vote in upcoming elections. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

With Election Day this upcoming Tuesday, students in large numbers have registered to vote, especially given this historic, polarizing campaign. The final day to register to vote ahead of time was this Tuesday, Nov. 1, although Connecticut allows for same-day voter registration. Students and others wishing to register on the day of the election must go to Mansfield Town Hall, one of the state’s official Election Day Registration locations a short walking distance from Mansfield Community Center, the polling location for UConn students living on or close by campus. For same day voter registration, students should be advised they must bring a form of photo ID (just as is required to vote) and proof of residency. Students from out of state may register to vote in Connecticut using their UConn address, which qualifies as an in-state residency.

Many student groups on campus have been proactive and successful in helping students register to vote. They have organized canvassing and voter registration drives not just during the weeks leading up to Election Day and the pre-registration deadline, but throughout the entire fall semester. For example, UConnPIRG has registered over 2,204 new voters on campus this year as of Oct. 28, not including an additional, final push afterwards, according to a report by Marlese Lessing for the Daily Campus.

These efforts are critically important in increasing student voter turnout and political engagement. Although registering to vote takes no more than a few minutes, students may not know where to begin or have questions while filling out their information. These student groups may be particularly helpful in mailing students’ voter registration forms, or delivering them in person and handing them in at town hall – adding an extra convenience.

That being said, there is concern that students may fill out the paper form, give it to a student volunteer, and for one reason or another, not have it ultimately delivered to the respective town registrar of voters. According to a report by Daniela Marulanda for the Daily Campus, students have been making mistakes when filling out the voter registration forms, that haven’t been noticed until the forms have arrived at the Registrar of Voters office. This has very problematic consequences; students may show up to the polls to vote on Election Day to discover they were never actually registered. Although there is the same day voter registration, that takes extra time, and students may not have proof of residency with them.

Registering to vote should continue becoming easier for students. Same Day Voter Registration was established in 2012. The Secretary of the State of Connecticut, Denise Merrill, has in recent years launched a website for online voter registration, a convenient option for students. This summer, Connecticut launched an opt-in automatic voter registration at the time of license registration or renewal at DMVs throughout the state.