UConn Voting Coalition runs get out the vote drive


Multiple UConn organizations like UConnPIRG, the Rainbow Center, UConn College Democrats, the African American Cultural Center and the iCenter set up a series of tables on Fairfield Way to encourange students to vote. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The Voting Coalition at the University of Connecticut set up a series of tables along Fairfield Way on Election Day encouraging students to vote and providing them information about how to do so on campus.

The Voting Coalition is composed of multiple organizations including UConnPIRG, the Rainbow Center, UConn College Democrats, the African American Cultural Center and the iCenter.

The organizations gave out buttons, stickers, sunglasses and bottle openers to students who stopped by their tables and even had sheets of presidential fun facts and madlibs.

“We’re trying to get the youth vote out,” Emily O’Hara, a member of UConn PIRG and first-semester political science major, said, “We’re the largest demographic but we have the lowest turnout.”

O’Hara said that, given the nature of this election, she expects that students may be more motivated to vote than in previous elections.

“(UConnPIRG) came up to me and started talking to me even though I had my headphones in, they’re really trying to reach out to a lot of people,” Catherine Zhan, a seventh-semester human development and family studies major, said.

Members of UConnPIRG helped answer Zhan’s questions about how to register to vote on campus and where and how to vote.

“It motivated me a little more to go register, I was contemplating it,” Zhan said.

Timothy Bussey, the co-facilitator of Rainbow Grads and Young Professionals and a Ph.D. candidate in political science, said that students should make sure to do their civic duty and vote.

“People are worried about the future of the country and want to make sure whoever is elected does a great job and will be able to support plenty of diverse interests,” Bussey said.  

In addition to the non-partisan efforts of the Voting Coalition to get students to the polls, groups such as the UConn College Democrats were present on election day to educate students about candidates from their party.

“We have a choice between moving forward and progressing off Barack Obama’s presidency or choosing the other way and dividing the nation and going back a few decades,” Megan Handau the president of the UConn College Democrats, former president of UConn Ready for Hillary and fifth-semester political science and gender and sexuality studies double major said.

Handau said that while she would love for people to vote for Democrats, she just wants to make sure students are exercising their right to vote and making their voices heard.

“I want people to remember to vote and use their first amendment rights,” Handau said.

UConn College Republicans did not publicly hold a spot to encourage the voting initiative on Fairfield Way.

“We’re not publicly doing an event but we encourage nonpartisan voting,” Emily Tuomala, a member of UConn College Republicans and third-semester student said.

UConnPIRG stopped various students along Fairfield way to gather data on whether or not they had voted yet and if they planned to do so.

“We use the numbers to show how we’re impacting campus,” Shar Iqbao, a member of UConnPIRG and third-semester political science and economics double major, said.

UConnPIRG ran a voter registration drive in the weeks leading up to the election and registered 2400 new voters on campus.

“(This election) it’s drawn a lot of attention to issues students care about and made them aware of what’s going on in the world,” O’Hara said.

Neel Razdan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at neel.razdan@uconn.edu 

Anna Zarra Aldrich is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.

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