Wesleyan Assists Community with Voter Registration

The Middletown Registar of Voters helps students fill out voter registration papers in Beckham Hall.

The Middletown Registar of Voters helps students fill out voter registration papers in Beckham Hall.

Wesleyan students and administrators are committed to getting everyone registered to vote and to the polls for this November’s election. According to Chris Goy ’09, founding member of WesVotes, the university is assisting with the voting registration effort more than it has in the past.

Although Goy says that only 13 percent of the Wesleyan campus was registered to vote in Connecticut during last year’s presidential primary, he believes that a partnership between WesVotes and the university will lead to a significant increase of that number.

“Essentially what we are doing is specialization of labor,” Goy says.

Wesleyan’s Residential Life office provided WesVotes with the names of Area Coordinators and Resident Advisors for the entire residential campus. With the support of Residential Life, an appointed volunteer hall captain will be knocking on each of their students’ room doors to talk to them about voter registration and provide them with information that they need.

Area Coordinators will be able to provide Connecticut voter registration forms or absentee ballots with pre-stamped envelopes in the appropriate student’s mailbox. Once sealed, hall captains can take completed forms to Wes Station to save students’ time if requested. The Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development pitched in by providing the money for all of the stamps.

When broken down by the hall level, hall captions essentially will have approximately 15-30 people to contact.

“It’s a very efficient structure,” Goy says. “The list of all residential life staff divided by hall location has allowed us to keep track of what’s been covered.”

“We are making it as simple as possible for students to register to vote,” says Director of Residential Life Fran Koerting. “I think it’s wonderful that [the voter registration effort] is coming from the students. When they see their peers getting excited about voting, that carries more weight.”

Goy says past voter registration efforts have lacked this precision since organizers were unsure about which students received the information they needed to register.

Voter registration forms are also available at the Registrars office. On election day, there will be shuttles to the polls.

Frank Kuan, director of Community Relations, has worked closely with the Middletown Registrar of Voters to make students lives easier on election day. Students will only need to provide their WesID card and will have special location at the polls to sign in at when they vote in November.

He says WesVotes also lobbied to get a voting reminder on each student’s electronic portfolio page. The university has also linked to a voter registration information website called Declare Yourself from the Wesleyan homepage.

Goy says that reminders do help but stressed that students have to take responsibility to register to vote. To contact WesVotes email wesvotes@gmail.com.

Students who want to help register Middletown’s North End residents can contact alumnus Izzi Greenberg ’05, who is a community organizer and Executive Director of the local non-profit North End Action Team. For more information, contact izzi.greenberg@neatmiddletown.org.