In such unprecedented times, people want their voices heard


Courtesy of ACLU Minnesota

Matthew Jaroncyk

With the presidential election officially two weeks away, voting has become a necessity for everyone, especially in this year’s election.

This is the case for Hamden, as town clerk Vera Morrison noted that compared to previous elections, this year has had the most voter registration and absentee ballots.

“Our usual voter registration is around 33,000 and it’s at 35,524 as of today [Wednesday]. As far as absentee ballots, the presidential year in 2016, we did 2,200. As of today [Wednesday], we’ve done 11,000 absentee ballots in six weeks’ time.”

The high volume of voter participation can be attributed to individuals like first-year math major Hannah Francisco. She made it clear that even though there continues to be a pandemic across the nation, she wanted to vote in-person her first time to not only be there but to have her voice heard.

“I was very adamant about going in person since this is my first time and I want to get the full experience of it… A lot of things right now are pretty bad and me speaking my mind about it, just being known out there gives me more peace of mind about how I can help people…It makes me feel heard.”

In Connecticut, in order to request an absentee ballot, you would have to adhere to one of the valid excuses on why you would have to vote this way. However, in these unprecedented times, COVID-19 has been added to this list of excuses.

Source: MIT Election Data + Science Labs

For first-year law and society major Sara Lopes, she submitted an absentee ballot because she is from the New York area. However, she mentioned that if she were from Connecticut, she would vote in-person.

“I feel in Connecticut, the way we handle COVID-19 in itself, I feel safe enough to go in person,” said Lopes.

Despite the way President Trump has tarnished the United States Postal System and mail-in voting, Ms. Morrison has not seen any evidence of this thus far.

“…I mailed 9,100 ballots…on October 2nd and the voters got it the following Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. The Post Office has been phenomenal in the town of Hamden. So all this hype about the U.S. Postal Offices’ being terrible is not true in the town of Hamden.”

She did acknowledge that this has not been the case so far, as voters have been voting early. In the case of voters waiting until the last minute, she mentioned that the volume of ballots received could shut down her office.

During these times we have been learning to adapt, and this is what her office has been doing as the town installed scanning machines and using barcodes.  With this, Ms. Morrison is getting assistance from six registrar voters that are going to help mitigate the problem.

Just how important is your vote? Just ask the town clerk.

“Until you go out and vote and make your voice heard, nothing is going to change.”

For those looking to vote but are fearful of COVID-19 and the big lines these kinds of events accrue, Ms. Morrison suggested going to the State of Connecticut’s Online Voter Registration System where it will guide you through how to register to vote online.