A Bipartisan Plea: Vote This November
As presidents of the Wesleyan Democrats and the Cardinal Conservatives, we are writing to encourage you to register to vote in the upcoming mayoral election. As we read about the Wesleyan students facing arrest for their participation in Occupy Wall Street, we admire their tenacity and spirit, even where we disagree with aspects of the movement. Activism, especially political activism, is a big part of who we are as individuals and as students at Wesleyan. But at the same time, we have turned a blind eye to political engagement in its most basic form: voting. Last November, only a handful of Wesleyan students voted, and, among those, even fewer did so here in Middletown, where we live for the majority of the time we spend at Wesleyan. Nationwide, less than 22% of eligible 18-to-25-year-olds cast ballots. This November, we challenge our student body to do its part in boosting that figure.
In a few weeks (Tuesday, November 8, to be precise), our city will choose a chief executive. Incumbent mayor Sebastian Giuliano (R) is seeking a fourth two-year term and faces a rematch against Common Councilman Dan Drew (D), who lost to Giuliano in 2009, 47%-53%. The margin was 483 votes. A low turnout is expected this year, and the margin will again be razor-thin. This means that Wesleyan has an opportunity to make a significant difference. By getting out and voting, we can not only voice our political viewpoints, but also become engaged in the greater Middletown community.
So how do you register? There are a couple ways: By emailing WesleyanVotes@gmail.com, you can get in touch with us and we’ll give you a hand. Otherwise, you can go to www.ct.gov/sots and click on “Elections and Voting,” and then “Voter Registration.” Print out a form, fill it out, and mail it to:
Registrar of Voters
245 deKoven Dr.
Middletown, CT 06457
You can also go there directly (Google Maps says it’s a 12-minute walk from campus) and fill out a form in person. You can also fill out a form at WesDems meetings on Wednesdays at 7:15 PM in PAC 107.
After you register—which you must do by October 21 unless you go in person—you can vote at the Senior Center at 150 William Street. On Tuesday, November 8, anytime between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., walk a half-block past Broad Street Books towards Main Street on William. Transportation will be provided throughout the day for students as well, and be sure to bring a valid ID. A few minutes of your day is all it takes.
If you are hesitant to give up an existing registration in your home state, consider this: especially since 2011 is an off year for elections, the Middletown mayoral election will have more significance to you personally in the coming months and years than any other race in the country. Furthermore, if you intend to vote in your home state in 2012, it’s as easy as filling out a form anytime in the next year to switch your registration back, and depending on your state, you might not even have to do that. By voting in Middletown in 2011, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
We understand Wes’ aversion to institutionalized politics. We empathize with concerns about the two-party system. Disillusionment—often with our own parties—is the daily curse of the politically-engaged college student. But in order for our concerns to be heard, and in order to influence change in a positive way, we must first be willing to take part in the democratic process. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “[A]s soon as public service ceases to be the principal concern of the citizens… the state is already nearing its ruin.” This November, you, as an individual, and Wesleyan, as a campus, can take a moment to avert our nation’s “ruin” by voting. Okay, so the stakes might not seem that high to you. But you can be a part of a close election that will personally affect you for as long as you are on campus. We will be voting in it, and we hope you will, too.
Florsheim is a member of the class of 2014 and President of the Wesleyan Democrats; Yeung is a member of the Class of 2014 and President of the Cardinal Conservatives.