The 2018 Midterm Elections, where the entire House of Representatives and one third of the U.S. Senate is up for election, will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6. On that day in the Lower Level of the John A. Barone Campus Center, students and Fairfield community members can register to vote and vote on the same day.
To register to vote on campus, full-time undergraduate students who are adult U.S. citizens can go to the Office of Student Engagement to get a residency letter to prove they live on campus. An email to students from Civic Engagement & Democratic Engagement explained that both Fairfield University students and Fairfield residents will have to bring a photo I.D. to register, but specified that students can use their StagCard
Election Day Registration will run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; the times that the polls are open. If you are in line to vote when the polls close, you should not go home because legally, the polling station must let you complete the voting process.
Dr. Gayle Alberda, Ph.D., professor of politics and public administration, explained the principle of election day registration. “Both SDR [same day registration] and EDR [election day registration] are a one stop shop – meaning they offer more convenience for voters because they can register and vote at the same time,” said Alberda. “Research shows that both EDR and SDR have a positive impact on voter turnout.”
In 2016, 400 students participated in election day registration at Fairfield University.
Students who register to vote in the BCC will register with their campus mailbox address. Students in every residence hall except John C. Dolan Hall vote at Holland Hill Elementary School, and Dolan residents vote at Fairfield Woods Middle School. The registrar of voters keeps track of where students live on campus, according to chairman of the Democratic Town Committee Steve Sheinberg. A student who moves from Dolan Hall to Meditz Hall, for example, will not have to re-register with their Meditz address. However, their polling place would change.
This division is likely the result of the administrative process of redistricting.
“Redistricting occurs every 10 years,” reported Alberda. “In 2010 when they redrew the district lines, it likely resulted in splitting the campus into different districts.”
Alberda stated that the district lines on campus may change again in 2020 to reflect the 2020 census.
When she was a sophomore, Alyssa Vigorito ‘19 registered to vote on campus in the 2016 elections.
“I think it was extremely helpful because at that point I didn’t have a car on campus, so having to go elsewhere to vote would have been difficult,” said Vigorito, who is originally from New York. “I think that having the booths on campus was good and that Fairfield should do that for midterms as well as presidential elections, because it’s easy and more accessible.”
First-year student Katherine Bacchi did not know she would be able to vote until hearing about EDR in the BCC.
“I will gladly vote,” Bacchi said, “That makes me feel a lot better.”
Of the six students the Mirror polled regarding their likelihood to vote, three said that gun control was a major issue for them this election. Two mentioned the environment, and three were concerned about immigration.
Five of the students interviewed are planning on voting, and one was a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient who thus cannot vote.
“If I didn’t already plan on voting already I would love to participate in the voter registration event in the BCC,” said Vincent Gadioma ‘22, who already voted absentee in New York.
“I think it’s great that Fairfield U is trying to get students politically active,” Gadioma continued.
The political clubs representing the two major political parties on campus are also interested in getting students involved in the upcoming midterms.
“The Fairfield U College Democrats are working hard to campaign on behalf of local politicians, as well as more high profile, state and federal candidates,” explained club co-president Alec Lurie ‘19 in an email to The Mirror.
“It’s so important to get students interested in the human element of government,” continued Lurie, “The best way to do that is to directly involve students with politics and politicians. It’s easier to become invested when you’ve met the people face-to-face.”
Lurie believes that the Nov. 6 election will be a referendum on the Donald J. Trump presidency.
The other partisan club on campus, College Republicans, is also active in the election process.
President of College Republicans, Sophia Dondero ‘20, also reported on her club’s involvement in the midterm elections.
“College Republicans are helping a few candidates through the club and some students have also branched out to help more candidates on their own,” said Dondero. “[We have] encouraged our members to go out and vote because it is our civic duty.”
In these upcoming elections, Dondero emphasized the importance of understanding differing views, “We have an opportunity here at Fairfield University to set an example of speaking freely on our campus while respecting each other at the same time.“
As for races to watch, Alberda explained that students should keep an eye on the Florida gubernatorial race, the margin of Senator Ted Cruz’s (R. – Texas) likely victory, and the Connecticut gubernatorial race between former businessmen Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski.
“The GOP only needs to pick up five seats to have a majority in the [Connecticut] state house,” said Alberda. “Since 2010, the state house has shifted GOP picking up 35 seats in the past four elections.”