Whether Wesleyan students can legally cast ballots in Middletown is being questioned after a recent new city voters.
Some Republicans and Middletown Patch commenters have raised questions after the announcement that 249 Independents, 192 Democrats, six Republicans, three Green Party members and two liberals were added to the city’s voting rolls.
Former Connecticut GOP Chairman Chris Healy, who is running Mayor Sebastian N. Giuliano's re-election campaign, questioned three issues in an email to Middletown Patch:
- If students who register with post office box numbers fulfill residency requirements
- If registering to vote in Middletown sufficiently surrenders hometown voting rights
- If state and federal obligations require changing the address on drivers licenses, income and property taxes, motor vehicle records and student IDs.
Janice A. Gionfriddo, Middletown Republican Registrar of Voters, disputed a story in Friday's Middletown Press, which quoted her and began, "Half of the 450 Wesleyan University students who registered to vote in the upcoming municipal elections may not be able to because of inaccurate addresses, an official said Thursday."
Gionfriddo said the dispute over students listing their post office box numbers in place of a street address does not make them ineligible to vote in the city.
“Whatever street [they] live on, all the mail comes to the Wesleyan Post Office through a P.O. Box,” she said. For their polling place, for instance, some actually live at Foss Hill dormitories. Still, Gionfriddo stressed, “We have been in the process of getting physical addresses for the students.”
And because dorms are located in three of the city’s 14 voting districts, her department is charged with making sure each student’s street address corresponds with their proper polling location come Election Day.
“Probably some of them will be voting at Snow [School] and possibly some will vote at Macdonough [Elementary], others will vote at the Senior Center.”
Letters to each of these 452 new student voters were mailed Friday, Gionfriddo said. “We’re requesting them to at some point come down and confirm that that is their physical address. … we’re hoping that they’ll probably get them by Monday.”
And with Election Day looming, time is an important factor.
“We’re kind of now at the 11th hour to print our completed list,” Gionfriddo said.
William Holder, director of University Communications at Wesleyan, said the university’s stance is clear.
“We encourage students to vote and participate in the political process as an important aspect of civic engagement,” he explained. “How they choose to participate is up to them.”
As far registering in two places, Gionfriddo said, “the voting form does have on there if you are previously registered under a previous address — that should be up to [students] to put that down.”
That was the case with a few students, she explained.
“We did have a few that divulged a previous voting address and we sent letters to cancel them out wherever it was that they registered,” Gionfriddo said.
Come Nov. 8, just like every other registered Middletown voter, Gionfriddo said, Wesleyan students will be asked for photo identification at the polls.
"You are required to show identification when registering to vote in person. Acceptable identification includes anything with a name and address: a Connecticut driver's license, a utility bill, or even a checkbook. If you register by mail, you must provide your Connecticut driver's license or the last four digits of your Social Security number on the voter registration form, which will be confirmed by the state's centralized voter registration system. This will avoid additional ID requirements for first-time voters in federal elections. First-time voters who register by mail in a federal election are subject to additional requirements," said a statement on the Vote411.org website.
Ben Florsheim, president of the Wesleyan Democrats, says statements that of choosing to .
“Those students who are employed by the university or at local businesses are made aware by those employers of the applicability of the state income tax to Connecticut residents. Additionally, car taxes only apply to that small minority of Connecticut-registered vehicles at Wesleyan that are in the name of the student (as opposed to their parents), itself a small minority of people at Wesleyan, period, the vast majority of whom do not have cars. Students will not be randomly taxed for registering to vote.”