Though it feels like it’s uttered around this time every October, this presidential election year feels special. It’s not just the COVID-19 pandemic, the questions raised about the safety of mail-in voting or the incredibly polarized nature of politics; but statistically, this election is different. We’re talking about voter registration. Already, voter registration across the country has shattered previous records. According to USA Today, Texas alone has added an additional 1.8 million voters since 2016, with many other states and counties all over the nation seeing a significant increase as well.
In Connecticut, the record was previously set in 2016, when 2.1 million voters were registered by Election Day. Yet, according to an Oct. 14 statistic by NBC Connecticut, 2.2 million people are registered with just under two weeks to go until registration closes on Oct. 27. Connecticut too has the option of allowing for same-day registration and voting, and thus this number could extend even further past the end of October.
This collection of two million new registered voters usually leaves out the population of 18 to 29-year-olds, as less than half (46.1 percent) of that group voted in the 2016 Presidential Election. The good news is that, as always, there is room for improvement, and the voter turnout for this age bracket was the only range to increase from the 2012 Presidential Election, by about 1.1 percent.
Since that 18 to 29-year-old population constitutes the majority of the Fairfield University demographic, Fairfield is trying to do its part to increase voter turnout this election year.
As reported last week by sports editor and executive editor of The Mirror, Julia Lanzillotta, the athletics department has registered 100 percent of student athletes to vote.
For non-athletes, Fairfield is doing a number of things to not only help students register, but help them cast their ballots as well. The first stop for all should be to check out fairfield.edu/vote where you’ll find information on how to register or submit an absentee ballot for whichever state in which you reside.
Zachary Quinones, program coordinator at the Office of Student Engagement, has even written a few guides on the Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement portal on Life@Fairfield. Here students can access a “2020 Presidential Election Guide” with some common questions students ask when registering to vote in Connecticut, and a list of all events happening in October in the “Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement October Events” article.
You also may have noticed a few emails in your inbox about voting and what Quinones is doing to help students vote and register easily.
Have you ever wondered if you have to register to vote in the state you’re from? The answer is no! If you live on campus you can register to vote in the state of Connecticut! This means that there’s no need to sign up for an absentee ballot, as you can just pop over and vote in-person, so long as you feel safe and comfortable doing so.
Though voting can be very nerve racking, my roommate and first time voter, Jasmine Nguy ‘22, says she’s excited to finally vote. When I asked her why she chose this election to participate in, she said, “voting is just something important to do.”
Fairfield seems to recognize that there might be quite a few first-time voters, as not only Nguy, but all of my roommates are voting for the first time this election, and I’ve heard of many students who are in the same boat.
Here are some quick tips if it is your first time voting in-person:
Bring either your social security card or any sort of ID that shows your name and address. In the town of Fairfield, your Stag Card is actually an accepted form of identification when voting. Fairfield University will be providing the town registrar with a list of students living on campus so they can easily verify your address.
If you’re worried about transportation to polls, Fairfield is also covering that. Shuttles will depart throughout the day on Nov. 3 from the traffic circle in front of the Barone Campus Center. The University is also partnering with Uber and Lyft to provide discounted rates for students going to polling locations in the town of Fairfield, as voting can take over an hour, this more flexible transportation might be of preference to students.
Over email, Fairfield University Student Association President Vincent Gadioma ‘22 stated the importance of voting.
“For many students, this year may be their first time voting in a presidential election. It is important to vote because every single vote is an opportunity for widespread impact and lasting changes. By voting, you have a say in what you want your community to look like.”
FUSA Vice President Tobenna Ugwu ‘22 reiterated that sentiment, stating, “it is very important to vote. Voting is an opportunity to use your voice, and many people around the world don’t have the right to do so. By voting, you are standing up for all those disenfranchised and left without a voice.”
If students have any further questions, or need any help regarding voting, please reach out to the Office of Student Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.