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Many campus groups skip organizing for 2021 election, focus on future instead

There were three referendums on the ballot in the Nov. 2 election, but without a controversial presidential race the election featured less prominently in conversation and media than the 2020 election.

Despite this, some students were invested in the election.

Linzy Rosen `22, co-president of the College’s Environmental Coalition (EnviroCo), told The Colby Echo that her organization worked to help organize around the election to help get out the vote.

“Our goal was … to spread awareness, get people resources, and most importantly, [to] get out the vote,” she said. “We did try to inform people by giving them non-biased resources like Ballotopedia, [which] has general information [about the Maine referendums], and just talking about the real issue[s].”

Rosen put together a resource guide a couple of days before the election to make it easier for students to vote. The guide included a schedule of poll shuttle times. She shared this information with other civic and political groups on campus, hoping they would distribute it as well.

After the election, however, Rosen was displeased with the lack of College mobilization on election day. She wrote a piece on Civil Discourse expressing her frustrations at her club being the only one organizing for the 2021 election.

Local elections, she wrote, have a much larger effect on individuals’ daily lives than national ones.

“Local races have a huge influence on town dynamics, funding, [and] what is taught in our schools,” Rosen explained. “Federal elections are very important, but I do think that their implications are not as direct because these things take much longer to implement in some ways, and sometimes the actual changes are not as substantial.”

Lutie Brown `22, co-president of Colby Democrats, has observed similar student voting trends in her time with the student organization.

“I have noticed that Colby students tend to be the most engaged in even election years, whether they are the presidential or midterm elections,” she said.

Colby Democrats did not organize for the Nov. 2 election, instead beginning preparations for next year’s midterm and gubernatorial elections.

“This spring, we will plug members into the seeds of [Maine state] campaigns,” Brown explained, “so that they can gain valuable experience working with our local candidates, politicos, and community members to organize for the policies and leaders we would like to see in the next legislative session.”

Colby Democrats leadership is composed almost entirely of seniors, so they have been working to prepare underclassmen to lead next fall.

Colby Republicans also did not make efforts to organize for the Nov. 2 election. Membership in the organization is low, and their main focus at the current moment is addressing that issue.

“Our focus on the club right now is … expanding membership,” Colby Republicans co-president Jason Milch `24 told The Colby Echo. “People don’t know we exist, partly because I don’t think we’ve worked enough as a club the past couple years to get our word out.”

Milch also explained that he has been approached by students who are not comfortable joining Colby Republicans for fear of social consequences.

“I’ve also had multiple people come to me and say that they’re afraid to join the club, because they’re afraid of being associated with it and cancelled by other students,” he said.

Colby Republicans, Milch explained, would likely start organizing for elections someday, but they have more pressing issues to attend to in the meantime.

Milch did not vote in the Nov. 2 election because he did not feel it was appropriate.

“I’m from New York City,” he explained, “so I just thought it wasn’t appropriate for me to be voting in an election that’s not really going to directly affect me, and which I haven’t had the chance to research.

“I don’t know that the [CMP] corridor is going to affect most of us very directly,” he continued. “Maybe if people have parents that are Maine residents … those people would have more of a direct interest, but otherwise, not a very tangible issue for most [students].”

Brown has observed students becoming more interested in local elections.

“Colby students come from all over the country and care about the stakes of their votes,” she said. “We have noticed that students are beginning to understand the power of local politics and local voting.

“Students feel most empowered to vote when they feel educated and confident in the issues on which they are voting,” she added.

Campus groups are already beginning to prepare for next November’s election, suggesting that it will be well-advertised and participated in.

~ Milo Lani-Caputo `23

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