The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
home
Monday, Sept. 29, 10:38 a.m.
News

Big issues make student voter turnout stronger than past years

Unofficial statewide results collected by the Bangor Daily News reported that 706,300 of 925,816 registered voters participated in Maine in the 2012 election.

Both Republican and Democratic parties on campus reported a strong student involvement in this year’s election. Director of the Student Wellness Resource Center Lauri Sidelko coordinates the UMaine UVote, a nonpartisan organization to encourage students to vote.

“[There was] great engagement and turnout this year,” Sidelko said. “I think that the engagement from students and how strongly students felt about issues this year was more than I remember in years past. . . . We had a lot more people that were adamant about their beliefs this year.”

Noel Madore, vice president of UMaine Democrats, agreed that student turnout was exceptional this year. Although Madore admits he was not involved during the 2008 election, he feels this year’s election was an improvement.

“[Strong student involvement can] honestly be attributed to Mainers United for Marriage,” Madore said.

“[The] most important task was getting people registered to vote and getting people aware of the election,” Madore said, regardless of where UMaine Democrats stood on their issues. “[Election Day] was a great day for students and people who support education in general.”

The biggest difference between UMaine UVote and political party affiliates on campus —  UVote does not endorse candidates or take sides. According to Sidelko, the purpose is to “take all of the existing organizations on campus and help them to get done whatever they need to do in terms of the election.”

UVote helped and guided students to find out where and how to register and vote, to “try and help the student organizations because they are the ones mobilizing people to vote,” Sidelko said, adding that the most important part of her job was to stay nonpartisan and promote voting.

Cameron Marcotte, president of UMaine College Republicans, was disappointed by the election results, but he was eager to reflect on the outcome. Marcotte admits this is “a bit of a mourning period” for Republicans of Maine, because Democrats picked up more seats this election. He went on, saying he hopes Democrats and Republicans alike will “try and work together and get things done.”

Much like Madore for the UMaine Democrats, Marcotte said the main focus was on getting students to get out and vote. The group also took to the community by going door to door, calling and handing out literature to educate the community about their beliefs.

In talking about the overwhelming results in support of Democrats, Marcotte said the College Republicans are “certainly outnumbered” on campus and in the community. The heavily democratic weighed state does not discourage Marcotte.

“I wouldn’t say we’re at a disadvantage,” he said. “It’s all a process.”

Despite disappointment, the results of the election have had time to sink in. “It’s over, and we have to look past that,” Marcotte said.

Here at UMaine there is also a different group called No Labels, which is a group of students getting together to encourage students to vote regardless of their political standpoint.

No Labels is a national organization that launched in 2010. According to their website, No Labels  is a bipartisan group that aims “to force important issues onto the public agenda and to give our leaders the space and support they need to work across the aisle to address those issues.” Their website reads: “We want to help move America from the old politics of point scoring toward a new politics of problem solving.”

Here on campus, however, No Labels has drifted away from the national organization. Logan Nee, president of No Labels, says the main goal was getting students to vote and offering “a middle ground on campus.”

Nee said that the No Labels organization name is deceiving and misleading, and here at UMaine No Labels has tried to isolate themselves from the national program.

Mackenzie Bray, fourth-year student and active member of No Labels, said that the purpose of the group is to educate people who are unsure about what they believe.

“The next few years will be difficult because no politician will be immune to criticism,” Bray said, though he did not comment on the outcome of the election. In other words, candidates from the left wing or the right wing will be criticized, regardless of election results.

Sidelko also talked about the importance of the Residence Assistants in the dorms on campus: “The staff on campus who do the heavy lifting in terms of voter registration and answering questions are really the [Residential Life] staff — the RAs, the CCs and the ACCs — because they are the ones who have the students in front of them every day.”

“I’ve never seen just people so willing to argue and get really upset with others,” Sidelko said of the noticeable difference in this year’s attitude toward the election.

“It just felt like so much was on the line this year, and obviously there is a lot on the line and it is important stuff,” she added. “At the end of the day, we’re all still living and working and going to school together. . . . The thing I would love to work on in the future is how to have a civil election.”

There has been time to reflect and look back on the results and the efforts student made to have their voices heard.

“The election is over now. It’s time to be students, live together and work together and be okay,” Sidelko said.

Election turnout in Memorial Union mirror that of the results

Approximately 1,595 University of Maine students voted on campus during the 2012 election, despite long registration lines.

UMaine student votes reflect the national results, with 67 percent voting to reelected President Obama, while 25 percent voted for Gov. Romney.

Independent Angus King was favored by 52 percent of students, which mirrors the statewide vote of 52.94 percent. Democrat Cynthia Dill came in second place with 17 percent of student votes. Statewide polls preferred Republican Charles E. Summers second, with 30.58 percent of votes.

Agreeing with student polls, the state elected Democrat Michael Michaud to serve as House Representative for Maine’s second district. Former Maine House Democrat Leader Emily Cain will take fellow Democrat Elizabeth Schneider’s seat in the Maine Senate after winning 62.73 percent of statewide votes.

Maine is one of the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. With the passing of Question 1, Maine is now one of nine states to legalize same-sex marriage. 83.7 percent of students voted “yes” on Question 1. Statewide voters approved the bill with a popular vote of 52.71 percent.

The majority of UMaine students voted “yes” on all of the state bond questions. With exception to Question 2, all proposed state bonds passed.