Doors open at New Haven City Hall for unregistered voters

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– News8 is seeing long lines for voting all over the state, but for much of this morning, the shortest lines in New Haven were in the least likely place. The people who waited until election day morning to register to vote, appear to have lucked out this year.

“I think it paid off for me to wait last minute,” said Francena Parker, just after she registered and voted in City Hall. “The line outside is, like, ridiculously long.”

Outside City Hall’s back door was the line for registered voters to cast their ballots at the Hall of Records Building. That line literally stretched around the block. For the first few hours this morning, the Election Day Registration line was no more than 30 people long. News8 spoke to Tom Pescatore, who has a twin brother who was already registered. His brother stood in line for more than an hour to vote next door, whereas Tom, the unregistered voter, was in and out in less than half an hour.

“You go in, they give you the form, you fill it out, you bring it up to the people doing the registering,” explained Pescatore. “They register you right there, they give you a form, you get your ballot.”

“You know, I just had to get up at 7, come over here, relatively short line, so it’s good,” said voter Jonathan Gray.

In New Haven, it did not work so well two years ago. A thousand people showed up on Election  Day. The line was so long, some people did not get to register before the 8 p.m. deadline, so they could not vote.

Then, this past Friday, the Secretary of the State sent some of her people to New Haven to check out how prepared the city was for all the people who could show up looking to register this year. She had concerns that there were not enough people and forms ready to deal with the crowds, plus registrars there had not taken part in EDR training conference calls. Since then, the Registrars got help from the Secretary of the State’s office, and the Mayor.

“We actually helped and got her some extra help and extra hands on deck,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. “We have ten computers and we are hoping to get people through the line.”

A lot of the people registering today are Yale students far from home.

“Waited too late to register in my home state, so this gave me an option to actually vote,” said voter Jonathan Gray.

That is what was driving all these voters: a desire to be a part of this historic election, no matter how long they had to wait. Shreya Dixit is a Yale student who spent half an hour in a line for registered voters before realizing she still had to register. How long did the whole process take her?

“I woke up at 7 and came out here, so maybe an hour and a half,” said Dixit. But was it worth it? “Yes, worth it. I’m a Clinton supporter, so I want to vote for her.”

Related: Unregistered voters can still register on Election Day

If you want to register today, you’ll need ID that proves you’re you, and something that proves where you live, like a utility bill. In places like New Haven, you may have a lot of company, so leave yourself plenty of time.

Every city and town has one place for Election Day Registration. Most places are like New Haven, that place is city or town hall. You register there, and immediately vote there, too, all in the same place. Do not go to your local polling place if you are not registered.

Election Day registration offices are open now until 8:00 tonight, same as the polls. The big difference is if a registered voter is in line to vote by 8, he can still vote. If an unregistered voter is still in line to register at 8, he’s out of luck.

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