Some Harvard students might have been surprised to see the public headed into Quincy House and the Graduate School of Design (GSD) on Tuesday (Nov. 2), but the Cambridge residents were just doing their civic duty, voting in the midterm elections.

The two locations have been longtime polling places for local residents, as well as for Harvard students who register in Cambridge.

“For years, Harvard University has worked closely with the Cambridge Election Commission,” said Laura Simolaris, director of national youth engagement at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (IOP). “The commission is fantastic about helping us get students registered to vote, get information out to first-time voters, and allowing us to have these polling places on campus.”

A recent poll of national college students conducted by the IOP revealed that about 40 percent of students prefer to vote in their home states by absentee ballot, and Simolaris said a significant percentage of Harvard students register in Cambridge.

In 2000, the IOP stepped up its efforts with the University to register students. Since then, student volunteers have been stationed at University Hall and the College’s Houses during study-card day, ­when undergraduates are required to turn in their approved class schedules. The volunteers hand out registration forms and absentee ballots, and encourage students to make their voices heard.

According to the Election Commission, 842 people are registered to vote at the GSD, and 814 at Quincy House.