September 21, 2020
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff
As we all continue to work together in these challenging times, we must remind each other of the opportunities that exist for campus and civic engagement. One of the primary ways in which we can all contribute to civic life is by participating in local, state, and national elections. Whatever your affiliation, whichever candidates you support, I encourage you to vote.
TrinVotes, a nonpartisan initiative of students, staff, and faculty, is working to help our campus be as engaged as possible. This voter-engagement effort emerged out of a friendly challenge among presidents of NESCAC colleges and universities. To make your voice count in upcoming local, state, and federal elections, you need to be registered to vote.
Tomorrow, September 22, is National Voter Registration Day! This nonpartisan civic holiday celebrated on the fourth Tuesday of September was first observed in 2012. The holiday has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State, the National Association of State Election Directors, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the National Association of Election Officials
Tomorrow is a great day for you to register to vote if you haven’t already. Students, if you need to register for the first time or you have moved since you last registered, you can update your registration at StudentVote.org. Whether you vote in Connecticut or in your home state, make sure you confirm your registration is accurate.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all voters in Connecticut are eligible to vote by absentee ballot in the general election this year. Or they may vote in person at their designated polling locations.
Voting In Person
The polling station for our neighborhood is conveniently located on Vernon Street, just across the street from campus in the Learning Corridor. The polling station will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. I voted there myself during the primary, and it was safe, quick, and easy.
Voting by Absentee Ballot
Last week the Connecticut Secretary of the State began mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. If you’re not comfortable voting in person, you can request an absentee ballot. In Connecticut, local election officials will mail requested absentee ballots beginning October 2. Completed ballots can be mailed in or dropped off in ballot collection bins that will be available at City Hall and, potentially, other select locations.
StudentVote.org is also a great resource (not just for students) for information about the absentee ballot process, including different rules for other states if you are not voting locally.
Note that in many states, applying for an absentee ballot does not commit you to voting by mail. In Connecticut, you may request an absentee ballot and decide not to use it if you want to vote in person instead. Rules vary from state to state, so check with your state’s election authority.
Finally, I encourage you to do more than just vote. This fall, TrinVotes will sponsor events and programs to help members of our community make their voices heard, and you can help. To volunteer, go to the TrinVotes Volunteer Sign Up Form.
You can also get involved by contacting local election officials in Hartford or a nearby community to volunteer to help with absentee ballots on Election Day. Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced in July that poll workers are needed (myvote.ct.gov/volunteer). You may also wish to volunteer with one of the various fair election organizations or with the party of your choice as they work to get out the vote.
As we get closer to Election Day, I will continue to reach out to our campus community. Remember: Register! Vote!
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience