Early voting in Massachusetts began on Oct. 24, and a kick off event at Medford City Hall on Oct. 26 allowed student voters to cast their ballots for the 2016 Presidential Election in advance. Early voting is new in Massachusetts and will continue until Nov. 4.
This year, for the first time, the Jonathan M. Tisch College for Civic Life sponsored early voting shuttles for service on Primary Day, early voting days and Election Day, according to Tisch College Director of Policy, Planning and Strategy Jennifer McAndrew. Shuttles left from Mayer Campus Center and ran to Medford City Hall all day Wednesday and to Somerville city hall on Thursday, McAndrew said.
The shuttle program, part of Tisch College’s JumboVote 2016 initiative, makes it easier for students to access voting precincts by decreasing transportation barriers and encouraging more young students to cast their ballot, she said.
“The JumboVote initiative has registered 1,366 students [across all Tufts’ campuses] this semester alone,” McAndrew said, citing research done by Tisch College. “We do think that [providing shuttles] will help increase the number of students to vote.”
Those voting early can only do so at Medford City Hall or Somerville City Hall, according to the cities’ websites. Not so on Nov. 8: JumboVote 2016 Coordinator Diane Alexander (LA ’16) said that it can be confusing for students to know which polling location they should go to, as residential locations on campus correspond to several different polling locations.
Alexander listed the polling locations at which students on or near the Medford/Somerville Campus can vote on Election Day. Students on the Medford side of campus, she said, can go to Gantcher Center to vote, while students residing in Somerville can go to Holy Bible Baptist Church, the Tufts Administration Building and 405 Alewife Brook Parkway.
McAndrew added that students who are registered to vote and are interested in learning more about early voting can locate their respective polling station on activecitizen.tufts.edu.
Students who took the shuttle to Medford City Hall on Wednesday were welcomed by Mayor Stephanie M. Burke, who thanked them for coming early to vote.
According to Burke, early voting makes it easier for people to cast their ballots and reduces the size of lines on election day.
“I’m very proud of [Tufts’ students’] initiative to vote because it is so important,” Burke said. “A lot of students are from out of state, so to be able to vote here, where they are staying for seven months a year, is very important, and [I appreciate] that they got out and voted.”
Burke also said she is looking for a leader who will consider the ideas of younger generations.
“[I hope that] we can have a president that will listen to the youth of our world,” she said.
Lily Hartzell, a student volunteer for the shuttle program, emphasized the importance of voting and said that she wants to help more Tufts students be engaged both at the presidential and down-ballot levels. However, she said that she was disappointed by this particular election.
“I think [the election] is really disappointing, because we could have had a really important dialogue about huge issues that are really important to our country right now,” Hartzell, a junior, said. “Immigration is a huge issue, women’s rights is a huge issue, and we haven’t gotten to talk about [them]. That’s why we have an election, to spark this debate.”