BY Anaya vance
According to CTPost, last Oct., Bridgeport residents and Police Chief Armando Perez introduced the “North End Proposal,” an ordinance which would limit the number of unrelated people living in a home together to three instead of four. The proposal was made in response to public safety concerns and noise complaints, and would directly affect Sacred Heart students who rent houses together off-campus in the area.
Many of the Sacred Heart students who voted at John Winthrop Elementary School on Tues., Nov. 4 were surprised to find that their concerns were not always respected by poll workers.
“It wasn’t the most welcoming place for students and for myself. I think the overall concern of the locals were that Sacred Heart students are trying to mess up Bridgeport politics,” said junior Carlos Ruiz.
Carlos Ruiz is a Student Leader for PioneerVote, along with Meridith Kennedy and Allesandra Leone. (President Petillo is also involved in the initiative.) PioneerVote aims to encourage students to get out and vote.
“As PioneerVote, we wanted to encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said Leone.
On election day, students claimed to be harassed by poll workers and mocked by the Bridgeport locals.
“Students were basically being turned away at the polls, being told they needed specific types of identification, such as CT drivers’ licenses, when that was not necessary. The attitude of the poll workers was repulsive and I think that not only did that rub many the wrong way, but many students were voting for the first time and this set a horrible example for what their experiences could be in the future. With the rude comments targeted at the students, I myself felt personally attacked,” said Leone.
Unfortunately, some poll workers did not conduct themselves appropriately toward Sacred Heart students. They let their personal feelings compromise their professionalism.
“The poll workers are supposed to be independent, neutral, and non-partisan. Yet their comments reveal their true thoughts of our students,” said Connor Hartgraves, Assistant to the President at the university.
The actions of the poll workers were brought to the attention of the Registrar of Voters, who quickly went to the elementary school to diffuse the situation, as did a representative from the state.
“It is unacceptable as to a college student, as to a voter, as to anybody working in a voting process. Their role and responsibility is to facilitate without comment, and without favorable or unfavorable comments to anybody,” said Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim.
In spite of the unwelcoming exchanges, Sacred Heart students were committed to voting that day, and turned out in hundreds to cast their ballots.