With each election, a vast group of first-time voters are given the opportunity to cast their ballot at the University of Maine’s New Balance Field House. On Nov. 8, students, staff and community members visited the polling location to participate in this year’s midterm election. There was an abundance of volunteers both outside and inside the building to guide people through the process.
At face value, registration may seem a bit complex. However, Maine and 20 other states across the country allow for convenient day-of registration at their polling locations. The only necessary item is your license or any other form of documentation that confirms residency in this state, such as mail with your name and current address.
“It was pretty effortless, just writing out your name and housing information. They made it a very streamlined process, super easy. Just getting registered, voting, and then you can continue on with your day,” said Noah Cannon, a first-year kinesiology student.
Dozens of students were asked to describe their experience at the Field House polling location. The vast majority of the responses indicated that this process was incredibly straightforward and efficient.
“Everyone was very friendly, cooperative and helpful,” said Dylan Morgenstern, a first-year business and marketing student.
There are certain factors that have been dissuading young adults from participating in elections. The first is time management.
Many people, specifically full-time students, feel as though they are unable to set aside time between classes or work to vote. However, the polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for community members to visit at their convenience. A common misconception is that waiting in line will take too long. In some cases, that may be true; however, UMaine was lucky to have an abundance of competent volunteers who swiftly guided all of the first-time voters that needed to register.
Another aspect preventing the younger generation from participating is the idea that their votes do not matter and that their concerns will not be heard.
Fortunately, there is strength in numbers and regardless of the results each vote cast helps to provide accurate data in terms of our community’s opinions and desires.
Similarly, some feel as though they are not informed enough to vote. Through the internet, we have access to vast information regarding each of the candidates and their policy plans. An informed decision can be made through even the most minimal of research.
When asked what they consider to be the current, most prevalent issue in our local community, the majority of new voters brought up the issue of funding and affordable education. They expressed various concerns with society’s role in providing everyone with equal opportunities regardless of financial barriers. Others conveyed feelings of anxiousness over sustainability and air pollution, a contributing factor to climate change. The younger generation is very concerned with the future of Maine.
“It is important we make sure that our representatives are actually talking about issues and are held accountable,” said Sophie Thieme, a first-year studio art student.