Voter Registrations Imperiled Because of 5-Month Tardiness
Rising sophomores registered to vote in Cambridge have to re-register this fall, partially because of the University's five month delay in providing the street addresses of student voters to the Cambridge Election Commission, two commissioners said yesterday.
College students who are changing dormitory residence, including all but a few of next year's sophomores, will receive notices at the end of July (when many are not in Cambridge), warning them that their registrations may be invalidated.
The Cambridge Election Commission annually conducts a check of all registered voters' street addresses, widely known as "street listing".
If a person's address does not match the address on the registration form, it is required by law to send the voter a "drop notice." Unless the voter returns the notice by a certain date, he is removed from the city's registration list.
These "drop notices" were further delayed this year because Cambridge was in the process of computerizing its registration records.
Even if a person is dropped, he can always put his name back on the list by calling the Election Commission in the fall, Constance Miller, a Republican on the Commission, said yesterday.
David Sullivan, a member of the Democratic State Committee and a candidate for Cambridge City Council, yesterday said the delay in notifying students is damaging, predicting that many people would not bother to re-register. Sullivan added "this mishandling will certainly help certain political interests."
Elizabeth Glazer '77, who works for the commission, yesterday said, "There's a history in Cambridge not to register students because the Old Machine people felt that they'd tip the political balance in favor of the liberals." The commission is not acting maliciously, "they just see a greater opportunity to drop people," she said.
Sandy Scheir, a Democratic commissioner said Harvard's failure to forward the street listings to the election committee on time "Sure didn't help the Massachusetts Institute of Technology".
Sullivan did not accuse Harvard or his political opponents of partisanship but termed their actions "negligence."
"Harvard University has not been particularly scrupulous in going out of their way to preserve the voting rights of Harvard students," he noted.
The commission sent their request for street listings to Archie C. Epps III, dean of students. Epps was unavailable for comment.