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Registered student voters encouraged to cast ballot

By Monisha Rao
On November 5, 2012

  • Polling will take place at the Mansfield Community Center, pictured above during a 2010 election. Registered UConn student voters are encourage to cast their votes. KEVIN SCHELLER/The Daily Campus

Student organizations and candidates have been busy on the UConn campus in anticipation of Election Day, encouraging students not only to register to vote, but also to actually cast their ballots.
Both the College Democrats and College Republicans, along with groups such as the campus chapter of the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, have been passing out flyers to raise awareness about candidates and issues, as well as to provide information on how and where to vote.
"As an organization, we went out dorm storming on Oct. 8, 15 and 22 to various dorms on campus to register as many voters as we could, as well as running tables in the Union," said Jayanti Dixit, secretary of the College Democrats.
Mark Sargent, president of the College Republicans, said the club is encouraging students to register in their home districts and send in their absentee ballots.
"We tabled for absentee ballots in the Student Union for two weeks before the deadline," he said. "We focused on the major states - New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and of course, Connecticut."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voters age 18 to 24 significantly increased in the 2008 presidential election. Historically, however, voter participation for this demographic has been low.
"Nationally, the 18 to 24 vote did jump significantly in the last presidential election, but here in Connecticut there was not a large jump at all. So, we're hoping that through our efforts the 18 to 24 vote will jump in our small portion of the country," Dixit said.
Sargent said students may register, but still not turn out to vote. One reason students do not vote is because they are not well informed about the candidates and issues.
"More people are registered to vote than who actually come to vote. For us it is more of informing students," said Sargent.
Many students feel they are too busy to cast their ballots. To try to combat this inertia, this year student groups have organized a bus system to transport students to and from polling locations.
"We have a bus that will be stopping at major residential areas encouraging people to vote, which will take them directly to the polling station," said Sargent.
In addition to work by the student groups, candidates also are trying to reach out to students and younger voters.
Danielle Filson, a 5th-semester student, has been volunteering on the U.S. Senate campaign of Chris Murphy. She said it is a struggle for campaigns to appeal to younger voters.
"With schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, it's hard to get the younger generations to put politics as their priority," Filson said.
Many voters who consider themselves 'undecided' are, in reality, just uninformed about the candidates and the issues, she said.
State Rep. Gregg Haddad of Mansfield, who is running unopposed for re-election, said he has encouraged other candidates to appeal to younger voters in order to increase voter participation and political awareness.
"I am working with students like the College Democrats on campus and talking to students about issues that are important to them. I have also been working closely with the (U.S. Rep.) Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy campaigns to encourage the student vote," said Haddad.

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