The phones are ringing off of the hook at 3:30 p.m. in a small office in the Mansfield Town Hall. Patrons shuffle in and out, filling out paperwork, fighting to be heard over ringtones and background noise.
Caroline Redding sits at the center of it all, passing completed voter registration forms back and forth between her coworkers, answering phone calls and entering information on her aged desktop.
As a Registrar of Voters for the Town of Mansfield, the second-to-last day to register as a voter in an upcoming election would normally keep Redding busy, but with the gubernatorial elections falling on Nov. 6 of this year, her job is even more hectic.
The sheer number of new voter registrations from UConn students has made their office a far busier place, with UConn PIRG voter registration drives pulling in hundreds of applications from the university.
Despite the massive influx of new voters and her tremendous workload, Redding says she anticipates an Election Day free of any major problems or disturbances.
“We’re expecting a fairly orderly process,” Redding said. “We have a lot of organization, and people working to try to keep the line going and make sure that everybody is able to vote.”
The Office of the Registrar of Voters is confined, cramped and bordering upon claustrophobic. This feeling is in no way mitigated by the stacks of forms and filing cabinets that dominate the room, nor by the frequent flow of Mansfield residents.
On one wall is a large whiteboard, covered in names and notes, the black and orange marker catching the fluorescent lighting. The board is a subtle indicator of one of the other components of Redding’s job: training staff to work at the polls.
It falls to the Registrars to manage staffing for Election Day. However, they have many other responsibilities to ensure that the voting day runs smoothly.
“We’re preparing the machines, checking them to make sure that they’re accurately reading all of the ballots and that they work [and] preparing all the facilities and the staff,” Redding said. “But mostly, [we’re] trying to encourage people to register before the deadline.”
All voters who register in person must do so before 8 p.m. on Oct. 30 and those who wish to register online will have until 11:59 p.m. on the same day. Redding also says that the town offers same-day voter registration, wherein voters can register on Nov. 6 at the polls.
“Students that are already registered are going to vote at the Mansfield Community Center,” Redding said. “People who are not already registered on Election Day are going to come to the Town Hall.”
Redding stressed the importance of arriving early for same day registration. All who wish to use same-day voter registration must register before the polls close at 8 p.m., she said.
The light filtering through the office’s windows has dimmed. As afternoon fades into evening, the room’s fluorescent lights and blaring phones are suddenly headache-inducing. Redding stands and picks up her jacket, stepping outside to take a 15 minute break. Then, she’s back to work preparing for Election Day.
Sachin Menon is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.