Maine is facing another round of midterm elections this November. We have all heard the various reasons on why it’s important to engage in voting: it’s our civic duty, it gives the people a voice, and other reasons of that nature. We hear this because it’s true. It’s important for the country, the state and for the students at the University of Maine to make sure we are registered to vote and filling in circles come Nov. 6.
This midterm, there are several offices up for election additional to the race for governor. Both the U.S. House and Senate have open seats, with numerous candidates from the Democratic, Republican and Independent parties vying for the spots. After all running unopposed in the primaries, Independent Angus King, incumbent, Democrat Zak Ringelstein and Republican Eric Brakey race for the U.S. Senate seat. Democrat Chellie Pingree, incumbent, Independent Martin Grohman, and Republican Mark Holbrook will compete for the U.S. House District 1 office along with Independent Marty Grohman. After winning the primaries against numerous candidates, Democrat Jared Goldstein will face the incumbent U.S. House District 2 representative, Bruce Poliquin, who ran uncontested on the Republican bill. Finally, the race for governor will include Republican Shawn Moody, Democrat Janet Mills, and Independents Teresa Hayes, State Treasurer, and Alan Caron.
Differentiating between all of these candidates, along with their policies, histories and beliefs can be an intimidating feat, but one that students and citizens alike should tackle in their free time. There are numerous websites and resources ready to help anyone break down anything from candidate policies to voting regulations and steps to register.
Rock the Vote is an online nonprofit and nonpartisan resource that encourages young people to vote while simultaneously collecting resources and information that anyone might need to exercise their right to vote. Within their website, the state resources page provides informative links specific for Maine citizens, to help answer any questions, such as how to vote overseas, absentee ballot voting, voter registration, voting with disability and more.
Maine Public, a network of public radio and broadcasting stations, features a page on their website titled “Your Vote 2018” that highlights profiles on all of the midterm candidates. These provide background and information that can help voters make informed decisions on who they want to represent them at state and national levels. Along with these profiles, the personal campaign pages of each candidate can also provide insights into candidates’ beliefs on certain issues.
This fall, voters will also see five questions on the ballot. According to the Maine Department of the Secretary of State Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions page, Question One will ask Maine citizens: “Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8% tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?” The other four questions involve bonds for improving water quality, infrastructure and educational programs for the state.
Deciding on political representation and approving or rejecting ballot questions are important duties for Maine citizens. However, this midterm election is important for outside reasons as well. This midterm will be the first implementation of ranked choice voting in general elections. It was first used in the primaries, to determine the Democratic candidate for governor when the race between Janet Mills, Adam Cote, Betsy Sweet and others resulted in none of the candidates achieving the majority vote. Maine is the only instance of state-level ranked choice voting in the country, and this general election will serve as an example of this form of voting for the rest of the country—something that all Maine citizens should want to take part in.
UMaine is no stranger to the importance of voting. Wednesday, Sept. 25, is National Voter Registration Day and the UMaine coalition will participate in the effort to urge voters to register by hosting two events on campus to engage students. The UMaine Voter Activation Team and UMaine UVote will set up a voter registration booth in the Memorial Union on Wednesday to provide a space for students to register and ask any questions they may have about the voting process. Additionally, they will be on the Mall asking students to participate in a “Why I Vote” campaign, which will be turned into a video to help promote the most basic political right of voting.
On election day, students of UMaine can register and vote at the New Balance Field House in the Memorial Gym due to Maine’s same day voter registration rules. If you are a student and want to register to vote on Nov. 6, remember to bring your MaineCard and a copy of your campus address from MaineStreet, or a photo I.D. and another form of proof of address.
The University of Maine recognizes the importance of voting, and its students should too. The right to vote is a political right held by all American citizens, which combined with our civil rights, helps make the United States a prosperous country. The right to vote also legitimizes our own government because here, the right to rule derives from the consent of the governed. The right for those who hold office to execute power comes from the consent and choice of those they are governing for. This fall, recognize your own power and rights by registering to vote in the midterm elections.