On a cold crisp Saturday morning days before the midterm elections, Democrat volunteers are making phone calls and shuffling in and out of campaign headquarters in Storrs Center. Students from the University of Connecticut College Democrats and residents of Mansfield have been working tirelessly daily to spread the word about Democratic candidates.
Stephanie Goebel, the president of UConn College Democrats, led the efforts between citizens of Mansfield and college students within Storrs. Her hope? To ignite the blue wave, which is a statewide effort focused on voting Democrat for the progress and prosperity of Connecticut.
“It’s GOTV weekend - which means ‘Get out the vote,’ and so we’re working with the Mansfield Democrats for phone banking, posting on Facebook, going door to door within the UConn community but also in Mansfield,” Goebel said.
This weekend, Goebel and the College Democrats took on different tasks ahead of Tuesday. The students organized with the Professional Employees Union to secure buses that will run regularly on Election Day from Fairfield Way to nearby polling locations. Goebel also created informational fliers to give to voters and those she comes in contact with.
“We’re trying to put together a pamphlet on voting rights. One of the things people struggle with is that they’ll go to the polls and be told - for one reason or another - that they can’t vote that day,” Goebel said. “It’s just important to be an informed voter and know what your rights are. You can’t get turned away at the polls for a certain reason.”
Past the energy and motivation going into the Democratic movement, Goebel said voters, especially collegiates, need to take a hard look at what the Republican party is endorsing.
“The classic line from every college student, at least from Connecticut, is ‘I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal,’ and that’s just a contradiction in and of itself,” Goebel said. “People have to start having a personal reckoning for the values that the Republican party is espousing right now. Are those really things that you believe in?”
Goebel emphasized the midterm elections carry weight because they will change the composition of the Republican party, at both the local and the federal level.
“It’s not that it’s just Donald Trump, it’s everyone who is complicit in his agenda,” Goebel said. “We saw it with the Brett Kavanaugh hearing - there are so many senators who are willing to make decisions that fall in line with that rhetoric. He [Bob Stefanowski] is not going to ensure that Connecticut is different than the federal level. We need to elect state legislators who make sure that Connecticut stays a progressive state- that we talk about climate change, women’s rights and working wage.”
Despite the campaign headquarters being plastered in colorful posters supporting Democratic candidates such as Ned Lamont, Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney, Goebel said the most important part of her and the club’s mission is to find a common ground with those who disagree.
“At the end of the day, I want everyone to vote, and I understand not everyone is going to vote with me,” Goebel said. “Part of what I’m trying to do this weekend is ensure that everyone I talk to knows why I am voting for Democrats and can at least see the value in that choice. It’s one of those things where everyone has to think of how much their vote counts.”
Goebel said the efforts are not about telling people what to believe, but making them think about how they believe.
“All of these issues we talk about are prevalent up and down the ticket- it’s about making people think about their choice,” Goebel said.
The sun begins to set on the headquarters and volunteers head out for the night. But their work is far from over. In the coming days they will be walking through campus and Mansfield to educate voters on their cause. The work won’t slow down until dusk sets on polling locations across Connecticut come Nov.6.
Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.