From Obama to College Republicans, encouragement of voter registration

President Barack Obama appears on-screen at the "American Idol" farewell season finale at the Dolby Theatre on Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

With less than two weeks until Connecticut residents cast their vote in the presidential primaries, a range of activists – from UConn political groups to President Barrack Obama himself – are encouraging people to register before the April 21 deadline in the state. 

Last Thursday, Obama made a minute long, taped appearance on the American Idol finale asking viewers to register online.

“This show reached historic heights, not only because Americans watched it, but because you participated in its success. And the same is true of America,” Obama said. “We reach our full potential when every American participates. So go to vote.gov and register to vote today.”

Technology is playing an important role in the registration process this election.

Although online registering has been available in Connecticut since 2014, this is the first time it is being used throughout a presidential race.

 “We’ve already seen a record number of people register to vote online in 2016.” Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in a press release last Friday. “But with President Obama and American Idol promoting the system we’ve seen an even greater bump over the last day. It never hurts to have a little star power on your side." 

After Obama’s message, online voter registrations in Connecticut more than doubled per day, according to Merrill’s office. Since the start of the year, the system has been used 547 times per day on average. After the Idol appearance, it increased to 1,258 times on April 8.

The online system, voterregistration.ct.gov, includes a five-step process for residents who are at least 18-years-old by the voting day and U.S. citizens to register with a political party.

UConn College Democrats president Brianna DeVivo, sixth-semester political science major, said there has been a lot of success with mobile voter registration in addition to canvassing in dorms. 

The group has also been registering students at tables in the Student Union in association with the Students for Bernie Sanders and Ready for Hillary clubs.  

“We’ve done two tabling events so far that have been very successful,” said sixth-semester management information systems major and Ready for Hillary President Prakriti Kumar. 

However, the online registration system only allows residents to register in the town that is linked to their Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s license, learner’s permit or non-driver photo ID.

For students at UConn wishing to vote in Mansfield, a paper form is still required.

UConn Students for Bernie Sanders uses paper forms for that reason and has led voter registration on campus. 

Since they became an established group in March, UConn Students for Bernie Sanders Secretary Ian Adomeit, a fourth-semester environmental engineering major, estimates they have registered 500 student voters, including 300 in the last week.

The group registers voters every weekday from around noon to 6 or 7 p.m., Adomeit said.

While UConn’s College Republican’s endorse voting, the group has not held a registration campaign on campus.

“We ourselves do not register voters, as we do not encourage students to vote in a place elsewhere from where they primarily reside. However, we do encourage everybody to go out and register to vote, regardless of political affiliation,” said Secretary of UConn College Republicans Zachary Quamme, a sixth-semester mechanical engineering major. “It is extremely important that everyone gets involved in government and the political process and that the collective voices of all Americans are heard.”

An effort to contact UConn Millennials for Ted Cruz was not responded to before publishing this story.


Annie Pancak is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at annie.pancak@uconn.edu. She tweets @APancak.