Vox Populi: What Got Them To The Polls

Lucy Gellman | November 6th, 2018

Vox Populi: What Got Them To The Polls

Vox Populi  |  Arts, Culture & Community  |  Campaign 2018


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46-year-old Katie Bowman, who works as a custodian at Yale University and is a proud dog mom: "It’s just coming together as one! America! Trying to make things work and make things better. Right now, we’re gettin the ass end of the stick. I’m a Democrat, all day."

Updated 11:35 p.m. November 6

Some of them did it because they don't want to see their medical benefits disappear. Some of them did it for their kids, and gave them the chance to tag along. Some of them just thought the rent in New Haven is too damn high. And many waited long after 8 p.m. to vote at City Hall, after an overwhelming response to same-day registration.

As the polls filled up on Tuesday morning and afternoon, voters around New Haven took a moment to speak to The Arts Paper about what got them to the polls in high numbers and amid crashing machines, long waits at polling places and for same-day registration, and torrential bursts of rain. Here’s what some of the had to say.

Magique Brown and her mom, Peaches McFadden. Brown said she’d waited over three hours during same-day registration to vote at City Hall. She voted in the city's aldermanic chambers just after 10 p.m.

BrownandMcFadden - 1I waited forever. They offered us food while we were waiting. I thought that I had registered already, but I went through the process of a new time over just in case I wasn’t already registered. Honestly, I’ve been 18 since two years ago. I never voted before, so I felt like I should. I have a kid now, so I’m trying to be his voice too.

Her mom jumped in.

We was waiting here for a while, but we was determined. Just to be a voice a a community. But, if I may say, as a Black community. Because they’re taking a lot of things away for us. Me, with my six kids, my 81-year-old mother, and we as people, we need help.

Nancy Carslile Schumacher, 80, Writer and Retired East Rocker

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I’ve been in Connecticut since 1995—all together about 29 years. Yes, I vote in every election. And I want the Democratic party to take over Congress. I am frustrated with the president, to put it mildly.

We do need preexisting conditions to continue to be covered. I broke both my hips. I have epilepsy. We also need to have more interaction with people in Congress, so that we’re back where we were talking across the aisles and making politics interesting. People have to talk to each other. They can’t just announce what they have to say. They have to be.a little bit more polite.

I vote the Democratic ticket, generally. Unless there’s something I really don’t like.

Meg Ifill, 52, Cedar Hill Resident and local Arts Enthusiast

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Meg Ifill pictured with Ward 10 Alder Anna Festa. 

I don’t miss an election, ever. And today I’m having a new New Haven resident arrange to vote. Gonna go to City Hall, do same day registration. I met them at the Arts Council annual meeting. Just happened to strike up a conversation—they were a somewhat new person to New Haven, and when they updated their address change, I realized “Oh! Time to vote!”

They’ve been following local politics, love New Haven—all the arts and culture, education opportunities—so they are gonna go vote today.

I’ve already voted today. For mental health, the budget, being able to follow what’s going on, having fiscally responsible and accessible politicians that represent the people. Both my children are about to vote—one for the first time, one for the second time. They’ve testified in Hartford, in front of the appropriations committee, since they were about 14 years old, and this is just another part of their journey.

Sometimes we have to look at the lesser of two evils. But the conversation at home that we have is that it’s important to vote, and not abstain from voting. Because that really is the first step. Looking at what bills are coming up, following it, emailing your testimony, appearing in Hartford, knowing what’s going on for yourself and not just listening to your pastor, your priest, your smart friend. Learning these things that are available online to you is really gonna be important, because we have found that legislators on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democratic, are part of the solution and we need to access all of them for ourselves. So the vote is just the first step, not the last step.

Harold Chamorro, 42, an employee of the city’s Board of Education

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I voted to make a difference, to make a change in here. That’s something we have to do. That’s part of voting. The most important issue as a voter is teens, school programs for these young people.

The most important issue, for our students, is more student safety. Also more academic programs and more after-school programs for these students. That’s what they need.

I voted Democrat all the way, baby. Every vote does matter. Every election does matter. Everybody’s talking about “oh, nothing changes,” no. It doesn’t change because you don’t go out and do your part as a voter. Vote! Once you vote, you see how things change. It makes a difference in somebody’s life.

Davin Moore, 32, a truck driver who came to the polls at Celentano School during the day’s heaviest rain with his 14-year-old daughter, Sanaa.

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My kids [brought me out to the polls]. Pretty much my kids. I want to make sure we have the right people in office to not only help me, but to mainly help my kids. That’s about it.

Honestly, I'm hoping to see a lot less violence. There’s way too much violence on all sides. Better managing of out money. Way better management for our money. More money in schools, definitely to help our general public. 

I feel like we need a lot more jobs back in New Haven. When I was coming up, we had a heck of a lot more jobs. My folks … my mom was a registered nurse and my dad was a truck driver. But now there’s no jobs there. On top of it, it's like every time I open up a newspaper or I look on social media, there’s always some kind of violence, and that’s not what I want to raise my kids in.

Ann Marlowe, 76, Copy editor and nearly full-time volunteer at New Haven’s Institute Library

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We need people who are going to protect the environment, protect social security, protect public education, protect affordable healthcare—I could go on!

I voted straight Democrat. I just feel that people who vote for Oz Griebel are giving half their vote to Stefanowski, and that’s such a terrible, terrible idea. I am [hoping to see a “Blue Wave”], but we need more than today’s wave! ... I would love to see Justin Elicker come back.

Clarence Edward Philips Jr., 52, who shared his thoughts as he was leaving Lincoln-Bassett Community School after voting

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Philips pictured with Newhallville Alder Delphine Clyburn and State Sen. Gary Winfield, who represents the neighborhood. 

The current president is not thinking about the Black community. I said Black community on purpose, because we’re not minorities. We’re Blacks, we’re the ones that make the difference, we built New Haven, but we’re not respected as having built New Haven. We built Yale.

I don’t appreciate that Mr. Trump called out our mayor in the only sanctuary city in Connecticut [not so:  Hartford and Willimantic are also sanctuary cities]. First of all, that’s disrespectful. She is our current mayor in perfect standing. And she shouldn’t have been called out at the White House.

I’m hoping to see change. I voted Democratic, straight Democrat.

Annamarie Perkins, 55, Newhallville transplant from upstate New York and former bus driver for CT Transit

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What brought me out to the polls? So I could make a difference and be a part of the change for turning the red to blue, Republican to Democrat. Yes. There’s a lot of things that need to be changed. They need to start doing more … instead of taking things away from the schools, from the children, they need to give it back to he kids because they’re stopping their education. Taking away the books, and everything that they’re gonna need for their future.

I voted Democrat straight across the board. All blue. Turning red to blue. We need to think more about the people than about the politics … we need to think about the little man.

Delano Ward, 32, working the polls with State Sen. Gary Winfield at Lincoln-Bassett School after voting at Ross/Woodward School

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I’m a single, African-American male that’s been living in New Haven my whole life. I’m currently employed, but my employment doesn’t seek the revenue that I need to make it. So that’s why I’m here [Lincoln-Bassett School] working this election, trying to bring change to what’s going on. This world just really needs balance.

I don’t have any kids, but I’m raising my mom right now. My mother’s on disability, and it’s hard out here. Gun violence, minimum wage—like I said, I need more than my vote to make a change. There needs to be some type of fairness in this world. It’s not fair that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. It’s not fair that you bust your butt as a middle-class person and they raising taxes on that. I just don’t get it. I feel like it’s unfair to me. So I feel like my little vote does count. And if you get 10 people like me, maybe the world will change.

Clare Wu, 19, Yale Sophomore studying political science and psychology who lives on campus, in Timothy Dwight residential college, and votes at the New Haven Free Public Library (NHFPL)

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So, I’m from Massachusetts. The races there—I’m pretty invested in them, but I also think that they’re very heavily leaning one way or the other. I really love my state rep, Joe Kennedy … I think he’s going to be an up-and-coming figure in the Democratic party. But I think he’s very likely to win his race, as is Elizabeth Warren. I think the governor’s race is very heavily leaning towards Charlie Baker.

I’m part of the Yale Democrats, and I was talking to some people in the group about how close the governor’s race is here. I also had a little bit of difficulty getting my absentee ballot—there was actually a huge issue at Yale, where if you didn’t have a P.O. Box … so I didn’t have a P.O. Box. I decided to finally just vote here because I really just wanted to cast my vote in the governor’s race, because I feel it is very close. I also used to live in Connecticut, for five years when I was in middle school, so I feel a connection here as well. I’m a pretty strong Democratic supporter, so I wanted to get out and show support for those candidates across the ballot.

Jerre Adams, 74, New Haven transplant and dance floor champion. He was almost more excited about the free Kentucky Fried Chicken at Wexler Grant than about having cast his vote. Almost.

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I came out to vote for a better governor and all that stuff, you know? I can’t break it down to every one issue, but we need a change. Especially Connecticut, a lot of people with businesses and stuff is movin’ out. Because of high taxes and stuff like that. I’m only going with what I hear. They say the governor we have right now would bring down all this stuff, he’s not the only one one the years. But you could have somebody that’s gonna change everything around. That’s who I voted for. Who is going to do the best job. I don’t care if they’re Republican or Democrat, it’s who can do the best job for the state of Connecticut.

At this point, The Arts Paper asked if he'd disclose his vote.

I can’t … it’s a conflict of interest. You know, these days I’ll get in trouble if I say it, and like, I don’t want to get into this. Like, for the president? If you say who you’re voting for, they’re going to beat you up!

I know, it shouldn’t be like that, right? But there are a lot of people who will be very mad you voted Republican.

To watch more live interviews from City Hall, where some people waited as long as four hours for same-day registration, click below.