In a recent email to the Colby community, President David Greene stressed the importance of voting. In an effort to ensure ensure the lasting strength of the United States democratic process, Greene implored all students to vote on election day.
“If you have the right to vote in the upcoming U.S. elections, I hope you will view that right as a responsibility. It is critical to the democratic process and the future of the country,” Greene wrote.
Greene noted the multiple methods by which most people can vote in this year’s election. Absentee ballots and early voting have eliminated traditional excuses for avoiding the polling station. Greene’s call to action has luckily not fallen on deaf ears, as hundreds of students have registered and made plans to vote. Many have also voted early in the past few weeks.
As Greene noted in his email, Colby Votes has been instrumental in the campus-wide voter registration effort. In an interview with The Colby Echo, Colby Votes Fellow Jayla Moss `22 explained the initiative’s stance on early voting and some of its voter registration programs. Moss believes that early voting provides some distinct advantages over voting on election day.
“Early voting helps voters avoid voter suppression. For instance, if you go out and vote early and there are any issues, you still have time to vote,” Moss explained. “If you vote on time and there’s an issue, you don’t have much time to fix it. We always promote voting early to just make sure that citizens have their voices heard.”
Because of college students’ busy, often chaotic schedules, early voting provides them with particular advantages.
“We have a lot on our plates. If we schedule something early, it’ll just make sure that it’s done. Just do it as soon as you can to make sure it’s done,” Moss said. “The lines on election day are long, and they’re not very safe with COVID-19. It’s good to vote early before there are a lot of people there and the wait is ridiculous.”
Through voter registration tables, Colby Votes has not only registered students, but it has also educated students, faculty, and staff on different voting methods.
“For the past few weeks, we’ve been tabling and have had voter registration cards. We’ve had information about absentee voting to make sure that students, faculty, and staff know how to vote and what their options are,” Moss explained.
Colby Votes has also experimented with Motivote, an online platform that motivates people to register and vote by allowing different groups on campus to register and compete with other groups for prizes. Moss believes that Motivote has helped foster a sense of community around voting and that seeing others register has motivated others to do the same.
“It’s been great. We have different groups join in, and they can create a voting plan. You get points for every action you complete,” Moss said. “For example, if you register to vote, you’ll get points. You keep accumulating points, and with these points, you can enter in for a prize.”
For the 2020 election, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), of which Colby is a member, wants the overall voting rate across its member schools to increase by eleven percent from the 2018 midterm elections. This implies a one percent increase for each NESCAC school. Moss is confident that the College will meet the NESCAC’s challenge.
“I really feel like because of all the tabling we’ve been doing, and just the big push that Colby has made this year with Colby Votes specifically, I think and hope that we have over a one percent increase,” Moss said.
This week is the last for early voting, so Moss provided some logistical information to make sure that everyone who would like to vote early has the opportunity to do so.
“Since this is the last week of early voting, there are extended hours from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday,” she said. “Absentee in-person voting happens in the Front Street basement entrance of City Hall, so people can just hop off the shuttle at Lockwood. Also, anyone who hasn’t sent their out-of-state ballots should think about casting their vote here to make sure their vote is counted.”
Natalie Davidson `23 and Avery Rosensweig `23 both voted early last week. They found registering easy.
“I actually registered on campus at one of the Colby Votes tables,” Davidson said.
Rosensweig took a different approach.
“I registered when I got there. I filled out a little card and then handed it in directly,” Rosensweig said. “[The clerk] inputted my information into a computer, then gave me my ballot.”
Davidson voted early because she was nervous about the long lines on election day.
“I voted early because I didn’t want to stand in a really long line on election day. I also thought that it was really important to vote this year, so I thought I might as well get it done,” Davidson explained. “There were really no people when I went. I think there were three people in line. You just go into a little room, check off your boxes, and leave.”
Rosensweig chose to vote early because she needed to register in Maine for the first time and wanted to make sure that she had enough time.
“I voted early because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to on election day. I was registered in Massachusetts, but I wanted to change my registration to Maine, so I went early to make sure I could do that,” Rosensweig said. “The people there walk you through it, and they were really helpful.
~Matt Rocha `23