Although final figures are not yet available, the number of first-time voters in Cambridge this fall will be unusually high, a development that may aid progressive candidates.
Regisration for the November 6 election closed last Wednesday, and election officials are still digging out from under a blizzard of forms. Close to 700 town residents registered on the last possible day this year, compared with 500 in the last municipal election in 1977, city election officials said last week.
And during registration week, the number of Harvard students registering for the first time jumped 25 per cent over two years ago. Election workers have set up registration tables in Harvard dining halls in an effort to gain more voters.
A Cambridge political maxim holds that any increase in the number of voters will aid pro-rent control candidates. That hypothesis may be slowly turning to myth as more condominium owners populate the city, but for now there are simply more tenants than landlords in Cambridge.
"The more new votes the better, at least to some extent," Lin Sasman, executive director of the campaign for the Cambridge Civic Association's (CCA) reform slate, said last week.
"It's not that simple, though--we have to wait and see what areas of the city people are registering in," Sasman added.
The student vote, if it materializes on election day, could significantly help liberal candidates. One student group, the Democratic Socialist Organizaing Committeee, has already endorsed council challenger David Sullivan, a rent control advocate. Other CCA candidates plan some last minute campaigning on campus.
But students have traditionally stayed away from city contests. "They'll all register, but when it comes time to actually vote they just don't have the interest." Walter Sullivan, a conservative councilor with the city's largest electoral base, said earlier this fall.