The Lower Level of the Barone Campus Center was flooded with students and Fairfield County residents on Nov. 8 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. waiting to cast their ballot. Out of the 884 people that participated in the election at Fairfield, 400 of them were students, according to Matthew Wagner, Democrat Registrar of Voters and Elections Administrator for the Town of Fairfield.
For the first time, Fairfield was able to bring polls to campus to allow students to vote in the 2016 Election. The Town of Fairfield selected Fairfield University to be the site for same-day registration and voting. According to Jeremy Kaler, the Associate Director of the Office of Student Engagement, the Town approached Fairfield about hosting the Election Day Registration site. The Town signed a 2-year agreement that Fairfield would be the EDR for the town.
“I know the seniors are very appreciative that we could register and vote at the same time,” said Fairfield University Student Association Vice President Brie Tancredi ’17. “It’s really nice to have the chance to do it all in one shot. It’s in a very convenient location; everyone walks by here and knows where it is.”
Many students felt like the voting polls gave them the opportunity to vote when they otherwise wouldn’t have. The polls were especially useful for Chicago resident, Fiona Morrison ‘19.
“This is a very effective way to get college students who don’t live in the area to vote,” said Morrison. “Voting is so important; you have no right to complain about politics if you don’t participate.”
Kaler broke down the process of how a Fairfield full-time undergraduate would go about voting.
“They would have to ask for a proof of residency and we would have to verify that,” explained Kaler. “Then they would be able to register to vote. Once they registered, their registration would get processed by the Town. When it’s processed, they are called up to vote.”
“I waited for about two hours before my number got called,” said Shannon Forrester ‘19.
As the crowd of voters grew, the process of being called up changed.
“The number system got messed up when we started printing on two printers at once. We were printing off on only one, then they added another printer,” said volunteer Kathleen Blaine. “The second printer was behind in numbers, even though people were being processed at the same time.”
The process changed when they noticed that the numbers were behind on the second printer. Instead of being called by number, voters assembled in a line according to the time that their registration was processed.
“The voter turnout was much higher than anticipated and it required some adjustments throughout the day to deal with the influx of voters,” said Kaler.
Students had mixed reactions about whether or not they felt that it was worth the wait in order to participate in their first election.
“I waited for about an hour and a half to vote, but I’m really glad I waited,” said Lauren Lovarco ‘19. “If we didn’t have the polls here, I wouldn’t have voted in the election.”
However, Courtney DeSisto ‘17 was not fully sold on the campus’ registration and voting process.
“The wait was long and time consuming to figure out all the steps in order to register. If it had been more organized, the process probably would have been faster and less confusing,” said DeSisto. “Although I was glad to vote for president, as a resident of Massachusetts, I wanted to vote for state representatives and state laws, which I was not able to do on campus.”
Nonetheless, Wagner hopes that Fairfield continues to be the EDR site for years to come.
“I thought it was a very successful voting turnout,” said Wagner.
Sophomore Jake Tamagni appreciated that he was able to simply exercise his right to vote.
“I think this is a great way to encourage students to vote,” said Tamagni. “I felt like they made the process so simple. This is so convenient; I wouldn’t have voted if we didn’t have this today.”